Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is India’s great festival to celebrate the new Hindu year. This usually takes place over five days in which different divinities are celebrated.
Also known as Divali or, in Sanskrit (the sacred language of Hinduism), Deepavali or Deepawali, the festival takes place on the fifteenth day of the dark fortnight of the month of kārttika (which may fall each year between October and November), and may last four or five days. Thus, its date changes according to the lunar calendar and commemorates the victory of good over evil.
Diwali is a festivity that has something for everyone! A celebration that fosters family ties and moments surrounded by friends and loved ones. There is an exchange of gifts and sweets with each other, and it is common to see people preparing for it by buying clothes days before the celebration to wear them for the first time. As with many other celebratory occasions there are also fireworks and, of course, oil lamp lights and candles.
The reason everything is about lights is because of the legend of Rama (one of the most widely worshipped Hindu deities, the embodiment of chivalry and virtue). After defeating the demon Ravana (the 10-headed king of the demons), the people illuminated all the cities to show Rama the way back. It is for this reason that each house and place is decorated with lights, creating an impressive and beautiful image. In Diwali it is customary to make offerings to the gods. The queen of the festivities is Lakshmí, wife of the god Vishnú, a goddess who symbolises good luck and beauty, and who grants prosperity and wealth. Also, the popular elephant god Ganesha is especially worshiped on these special days.
The Diwali festival lasts five days, and is named after the Hindu calendar:
Vasu Baras. On the first day of celebration, cows and calves - sacred animals in the country - are worshiped and all homes are carefully cleaned.
Dhan Teras. The second day of Diwali celebrates the birth of god Dhanvantri (god of medicine). It is the most profitable and prosperous for business. This is when candles and lamps are placed throughout the houses.
Kali Chaudas or Chaturdashi. The third day is the most important day of the festival. The day when the light overcame the darkness. The gods are prayed-to for happiness and prosperity. On this day it is typical to wash with perfumes and to bathe before dawn, to do so under the brightness of the stars is considered a sacred bath.
Diwali/ Deepawali or Lakshmi Puja. It is the most important day of the Diwali festival in North India. The fourth day is the first day of the new Hindu year. In every home prayers are made to Lakshmi and Ganesha. Friends and family gather to exchange gifts on this day.
Govardhan Puja. This is the final day of celebration and commemorates when Krishna (god of compassion, tenderness, and love and is one of the most popular and widely revered among Indian divinities) defeated Indra (god of thunderstorms, lightning and fierce weather) and released the maidens he was holding. It is common for husbands to give special gifts to their wives and brothers to strengthen their bonds.
We wish peace, prosperity, and good fortune to everyone. Happy Diwali!