One of the most significant festivals in Indian culture, Diwali, the festival of lights, sees millions attend firework displays, prayers and celebratory events across the world every autumn.
The festival is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains for a variety of reasons, although the main theme which runs throughout is the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil.
To celebrate, houses are decorated with candles and colourful lights and huge firework displays are held while families feast and share gifts.
What is Diwali?
Diwali is the five-day festival of lights, celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. The festival, which coincides with the Hindu New Year, celebrates new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. The actual day of Diwali is traditionally celebrated on the festival's third day, which this year falls on Thursday, October 23. The festival usually falls between the middle of October and the middle of November, although this is decided upon by the Hindu lunar calendar. While each faith has its own reason to celebrate the festival, one of the most popular stories told is the legend of Lord Rama and his wife Sita returning to their kingdom in northern India from exile after defeating the demon king Ravanna in the 15th century BC.
How is Diwali celebrated?
The festival is marked by large firework displays, to remember the celebrations which, according to the legend, took place upon Rama's return as locals set off their own version of fireworks. Those celebrating the festival also light traditional earthen diyas (candles) and decorate their houses with colourful rangoli artworks - patterns created on the floor using coloured rice or powder. During Diwali, families and friends share sweets and gifts and there is also a strong belief in giving food and goods to those in need. It is also traditional for homes to be cleaned and new clothes to be worn at the time of the festival.
What is eaten during Diwali?
The food most closely associated with the festival is Indian sweets, which come in a range of colours and flavours. The celebration however features various rich savoury and sweet dishes, and while eating out is popular, families will mostly prepare food at home for when guests arrive to exchange gifts and watch fireworks. Unlike the traditional roast turkey at Christmas, each family celebrating Diwali will more than likely have its own favourite meal for the festival, and the food will most often play a central theme to the celebrations.
Where can I celebrate Diwali in the UK?
Celebrations will be taking place across the UK this week, although some of the biggest are most often held in Leicester and London. Thousands are expected to turn up to the Diwali Day celebrations in Leicester on Thursday, which will feature hundreds of fireworks, street arts and live entertainment. In the capital meanwhile, large celebrations were held at the Diwali on Trafalgar Square event on Sunday, October 12.Reuse content
Diwali is celebrated in honor of Goddess Lakshmi. In Mauritius, we celebrate Diwali with honor great devotion. We cook sweets like kanawla, gateau patate, tekwa, gulap jamoun and many other delicacies. At 6 pm we illuminate the house with candles and diyas. We pray, offer flowers, sweet and agarbathi. We also invite family and friends to add more joy to Diwali celebrations. Diwali is a great festival to Mauritians!!Leena Charitar in Vacoas, MauritiusPollution-Free Diwali
I remember when I was in class 1, I wrote an essay on Diwali. I scribbled ‘Diwali is a festival of lights; people decorate their homes and exchange greetings……’ Well, Is it actually bringing light and happiness around? is it actually sending positive vibes and blessings for happy and long life for the people around us?? If we are honest the answer is ‘No’. For most of us Diwali is just a synonym to a night full of crackers, noise and smoke. All this is an amalgamation of gloom, darkness, despair, health problems, environment degradation and murk. We scare the birds to death, shorten the lives of children who are engaged in cracker factories, trouble the heart and hospitalized patients, burn thousand of rupees to ashes in the name of ceremonies. Do we have to pay such a heavy cost to buy a smile for ourselves? It is nothing but a sadistic pleasure to have moments of joy in exchange of mass havoc. After all Goddess Lakshmi does not want us to dispel the darkness of amavasya in this way. Let us enjoy Diwali in its purest form by lighting lamps, offering prayers and by making this world a better place for you and for me and for the entire universe. Happy Diwali.Tanya DograDeepavali - The Brightest Festival
Diwali, popularly called Deepavali in some parts of India, is a festival which we all long for every year. The preparations for Deepavali start long before the festival date.
First, the excitement for us would be the new dresses that are bought to be worn for Deepavali. Since Deepavali is a festival for more than 2 days, we have 2 or 3 new dresses. Apart from this all elders visiting us buy us sweets and dresses also. Jeans, T shirts, Trousers and shirts were all bought for me by my parents.
The other major excitement for Deepavali is the bursting of crackers and fireworks. This year we burst lot of crackers. Earlier I used to be afraid of crackers. Now I have got over the fear of bursting crackers. My parents tell me that I have to be very careful while bursting. I followed their advice and there was no fire accident also. Sparklers, Rockets, Ground Chakkars and Flower pots were our favorites besides the Thousand thousand sparks bomb.
The third rejoicing aspect of Deepavali is the eating of sweets. We visit relatives and friends with sweets and snacks. They also visit us with sweets and snacks. We seek their blessings on the festival day. Gulab jamun, Laddoos, Halwas and Kaju cakes were my favorites.
My grandmother tells me that the victory of Good over Evil is the reason for this celebration. She also says that the festival is to mark the return of Rama to Ayodhya after his defeat of Ravana.
Lots of people also start new ventures on this day after performing Lakshmi Puja. This is marked by lighting of lamps, candles and diyas by the women folk in the family. The light and colour add to the celebrations.
In all, I can say that Deepavali is the brightest festival to be celebrated in India. The delicious food associated with the feast makes us feel that this festival must come more often in a year.A.SeetharamDiwali - A Five-Day-Long Festival
Diwali is the festival of lights which falls in the month of 'Ashwin' according to Hindu calendar. 'Deepawali' in Hindi means a row of diyas. Almost every house and street is decorated with lamps, and lights on the day of Diwali.
Diwali is a five day festival in India. Dhanteras is the first day of Diwali. On this day people buy jewellery, silver and gold coins. On the second day, Roop Chaudas people bath with uptan. On the third and the main Diwali day idols of Ganesha and Lakshmi are worshiped (Lakshmi Puja). On this day Kali Puja performed in Bengal. Skies are full of blooms of crackers. The night of amavasya is transformed into Purnima by glory of diyas. Fourth day is celebrated as new year according to Hindu calander. Bhaiya dhuj which is celebrated on fifth day glorifies love between a brother and a sister. On the day of Diwali, Lord Ram returned to Ayodhya after exile of 14 years. People of Ayodhya welcomed him by lighting diyas. Let us all pledge to make our country prosperous and let us come forward to establish Ramrajya in India...
"Sabh mil mangal gao re,
Sabh mil deep jalao re,
Avadh me Ram aaye hai...!"
Diwali is the most popular festival of North India. It is celebrated when Lord Ram, Sita and Lakshman returned to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. People of Ayodhya welcomed them with lighted oil lamps. That is why it is called the 'Festival of Lights. Every year on the day of Diwali we celebrate and pay respect to the Goddess Lakshmi. People also make mud houses in which they keep the Goddess of Wealth and pray. Few days before Diwali we go to buy crackers such as rockets, bombs, flower pots and sparklers etc.
We start our Diwali evening by praying. Next we decorate our house with candles, thanking God for all he has given us. It looks beautiful when the oil lamps twinkle together in all the houses. Then late at night we get together and light the crackers. There is a lot of noise and air pollution. Then we have a small party where we eat and enjoy.Udita BiswasI Like Diwali Very Much
Diwali is a ‘Festival of Lights’. Before Diwali, we clean our houses, prepare various kinds of sweets and hang lanterns in our windows. During Diwali we burn crackers, eat sweets and draw rangoli on our doorstep.
Diwali is the festival of Goddess Laxmi. We worship Goddess Laxmi on the day called ‘Laxmi Poojan’ that comes in the period of Diwali. The period of Diwali longs for 4-5 days. The last day of Diwali is called as Bhaubij. On this day, brother gives a gift to his sister.
In short, Diwali is festival of excitement. According to me, this festival should never end but anything that has started should meet its end. But, this festival always ends happily. I like this festival very much.Siddharth BidwalkarIndia - Land of Festivals
India is a land of Festivals. Many festivals are celebrated here with great pomp and show. Each festival has a religious or mythological significance behind it. Diwali is one of them. It is the festival of lights. It is celebrated for several days. It falls in the month of October or early November.
Diwali is celebrated by Hindus. It marks the victory of Rama over Ravana. It is celebrated in honour of Lord Rama’s return to Ayodhya after Fourteen Years of exile. Before it falls, people clean and whitewash their houses. The toy and picture shops are rearranged. Sweets are brought and distributed. Candles and crackers are sold briskly. It is a festival for shopping. Laxmi pooja is performed. Shop-keepers perform pooja in their shops as well as at home. People greet their relatives and friends with sweets and crackers. Shops are lighted with colourful bulbs and attract huge crowd.
The evening is most interesting part of the day when houses are illuminated with earthen lamps or candles. Children burst crackers. One hears the sound of bursting bombs across the city. Every one looks happy. People worship the goddess the wealth ‘Lakshmi’. They pray for health and wealth. People start their new business from this day.
Diwali is considered the best festival all over India. It is called the festival of lights. It gives a message of love, brotherhood and friendship. The heart of every one should be illuminated with light....by Prateek KediaDiwali - A Festival of Lights
Diwali is known as the 'Festival of Lights'. It is a Hindu Festival. Diwali is celebrated to mark the day when Lord Ram came to Ayodhya.
After 14 years of exile. Lord Ram went on an exile because his cruel step-mother, Kaikayi wanted her own son Bharata to become king of Ayodhya. Kaikayi forced King Dasharata to send Rama to forest for 14 years.
To celebrate Diwali we buy new clothes, firecrackers, sweets, etc. We also meet our relatives and friends on Diwali. At dusk we do puja of Goddess Lakshmi. We also give food, clothes, money and other useful things to the poor. Some days before Diwali we burn statues of evil King Ravana. This is because Lord Rama defeated him. Thus, Diwali is a festival which celebrates victory of good over evil.What I do on Diwali
On the 9th November it is Diwali. On Diwali I go to the temple to celebrate. I usually have to be a vegetarian, because I go to the Alter and offer different sweets and fruits . One sweet is called "Peira" which is very fruity. We also take bananas, apples and grapes and many other fruits. I dress in Indian clothes. When I go to the temple I sing and play the harmoniam which is an Indian instrument. We light little lamps called dias, and put at least three in each room. This is to invite Mother Lasoni, the Goddess of Light into our house....by Privashti SinghLord Mahavira's Nirvana: Diwali
Among the Jain festivals, Diwali is one of the most important one. For on this occasion we celebrate the Nirvana of Lord Mahavira who established the dharma as we follow it.
Lord Mahavira was born as Vardhamana on Chaitra Shukla 13 in the Nata clan at Khattiya-kundapura, near Vaishali. He obtained Kevala Gyana on Vishakha Shukla 10 at the Jambhraka village on the banks of Rijukula river at the age of 42. He initiated his shaashan (Jaina-shashana) on Shravana KrashNa 1 at his first assembly at Rajgrah. After having preached the dharma for 30 years, he attained Nirvana at Pava, at the age of 71 years and 6 and half months.
The day of his Nirvana is is mentioned by many ancient authors. TiloyapaNNatti mentions: kattiya-kiNhe chaudasipachchuse saadiNaamanakkhatte, pavaae Nayariye ekko viresaro siddho.
In Uttara-puraaNa: kraShNa-kaartika-pakshasya chartudashyam nishaatyay, svatiyoge tratiyeaddha-shukladhyaana-parayaNah.
Thus during the krashNa of kartika month, during the svati nakshatra, on the night of the 14th (dawn of the amavasya), lord Mahavira became a Siddha.
Titthogali Painnaya gives the following gatha:
pancha ya maasaa pancha ya vaasa chhachcheva honti vaasasayaa |
pariNivvuassa-arihito to uppanno sago raya ||
The first line of it was quoted in Dhavalaa by Virasenacharya. Thus the NirvaaNa of the lord occurred 605 years and 5 months before the Shaka king.
Kalpasutra mentions that the King Chetaka of Vaishali with several confederate kings, had a great lightning of lights, since they said: ``since the light of intelligence (Vardhamana Mahavira) is gone, let us make an illumination of the material matter'' The oldest use of the word "Diwali/Dipavali" occurs in "Harivamsha-Purana" written by Acharya Jinasena, composed in Shaka Samvat 705.
tatastuh lokah prativarsham-aadarat
prasiddha-deepalikaya-aatra bharate |
samudyatah poojayitum jineshvaram
jinendra-nirvana vibhuti-bhaktibhak ||
Thus people in Bharata every year celebrate famous "Dipalikaya", to reverently worship the Jinendra on the occasion of his nirvana.
Diwali is not mentioned in Valmiki's Ramayana, Mahabharata, brahmanical Puranas or in Tulsidas's Ram-charit-manas. The Vira-Nirvana era originated on Oct. 15, 527 BCE. In 1997 the Vira-Nirvana Year 2524 will begin on Diwali. The Vikrama Samvat in Gujarat starts from Diwali....by Yashwant K. MalaiyaDIWALI-The unique festival of lights
Diwali or 'Deepawali',as it is known as,is the festival of lights.It is celebrated all over India with great enthusiasm and joy. The celebration of Diwali finds its roots in the Hindu religion. On this day Lord Ram had returned to his kingdom Ayodhya after demolishing the demon Ravan. The people enlightened the whole city with diyas to welcome Lord Ram. It is thus a festival to mark the victory of good over the evil. Diwali falls on Amavasya that is a 'no moon night' and people enlighthen their houses to conquer the darkness. It is a five day festival.
The first day is called Dhanteras - On this day people buy new utensils or anything in gold or silver.
The second day is Choti Deepawali - On this day diyas are kept at any dark corner of the house to symbolize that no evil can enter the house in the lights.
The third day is Deepawali - People decorate their homes with diyas,candles and decorative bulbs and lights. Laxmi Ganesh Pooja is performed and then people light up crackers and enjoy themselves.Sweets and rich food is also prepared at home to celebrate the festival.
The fourth day is Govardhan pooja on which the Govardhan pooja is performed to celebrate the great deed of Lord Krishna who lifted 'Govardhan Parbat' on a single finger and gave protection to the people from the heavy rains.
And the last day is Bhai dooj on which sisters put 'roli teeka' on their brother's forehead and pray for their well being.
Deepawali is thus a unique light festival filled with joys and happiness!