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Diwali (also spelled Devali in certain regions) or Deepavali,[1] popularly known as the "festival of lights", is an important five-day festival in Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism, celebrated for different reasons, occurring between mid-October and mid-November, (it is a Lunar festival). For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year and is celebrated in families by performing traditional activities together in their homes.

Deepavali is an official holiday in India (WP),[2] Wikipedia:Nepal, Wikipedia:Sri Lanka, Wikipedia:Myanmar, Wikipedia:Mauritius, Wikipedia:Guyana, Wikipedia:Trinidad & Tobago, Wikipedia:Suriname, Wikipedia:Malaysia, Wikipedia:Singapore,[3] and Wikipedia:Fiji.

The name "Diwali" is a contraction of "Deepavali" (दीपावली Dīpāvalī), which translates into "row of lamps".[4] Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps (diyas or dīpas) in दीप) filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. During Diwali, all the celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends. Most Indian business communities begin the financial year on the first day of Diwali.

Diwali commemorates the return of Wikipedia:Lord Rama, along with Wikipedia:Sita and Wikipedia:Lakshmana, from his fourteen-year-long exile and vanquishing the demon-king Wikipedia:Ravana. In joyous celebration of the return of their king, the people of Wikipedia:Ayodhya, the Capital of Rama, illuminated the kingdom with earthen diyas (oil lamps) and burst firecrackers.[5]

The festival starts with Wikipedia:Dhanteras on which most Indian business communities begin their financial year. The second day of the festival, Wikipedia:Naraka Chaturdasi, marks the vanquishing of the demon Naraka by Lord Krishna and his wife Wikipedia:Satyabhama. Amavasya, the third day of Deepawali, marks the worship of Wikipedia:Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth in her most benevolent mood, fulfilling the wishes of her devotees. Amavasya also tells the story of Lord Wikipedia:Vishnu, who in his dwarf incarnation vanquished the Bali, and banished him to Wikipedia:Patala. It is on the fourth day of Deepawali, Kartika Shudda Padyami, that Bali went to Wikipedia:patala and took the reins of his new kingdom in there. The fifth day is referred to as Yama Dvitiya (also called Bhai Dooj), and on this day sisters invite their brothers to their homes.

A lunar festival, Diwali varies in its date each year, according to the lunar calendar within the limits of the solar calendar. Consequently, its date is the same as many of the other festivals that groups in India celebrated between the middle of October and the middle of November.

For Jains, Diwali marks the attainment of moksha or nirvana by Mahavira in 527 BC.[6][7]

For Sikhs, Diwali is important because it celebrates the release from prison of the sixth guru, Wikipedia:Guru Hargobind, who also rescued 52 Hindu kings held captive by Wikipedia:Mughal Emperor with him in the Gwalior Fort in 1619, and it is also close to the date (Guru Gaddi, 3rd November) that the holy Sikh book was designated as the source of spiritual guidance for Sikhs by the tenth and (so far) last Wikipedia:Guru, Wikipedia:Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

File:Oil lamp on rangoli.jpg
A diya (oil lamp) placed on a Wikipedia:rangoli during Deepavali


[edit] Spiritual significance

In each legend, tradition and story of Deepawali lies the significance of the victory of good over evil; and it is with each Deepawali and the lights that illuminate our homes and hearts, that this simple truth finds new reason and hope. From darkness into light — the light that empowers us to commit ourselves to good deeds, that which brings us closer to divinity. During Diwali, lights illuminate every corner of India and the scent of incense sticks hangs in the air, mingled with the sounds of fire-crackers, joy, togetherness and hope. Diwali is celebrated around the globe. Outside India, it is more than a Hindu festival, it's a celebration of South-Asian identities.[5]

While Deepavali is popularly known as the "festival of lights", the most significant spiritual meaning is "the awareness of the inner light". Central to Hindu philosophy is the assertion that there is something beyond the physical body and mind which is pure, infinite, and eternal, called the Atman. The celebration of Deepavali as the "victory of good over evil", refers to the light of higher knowledge dispelling all ignorance, the ignorance that masks one's true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality. With this awakening comes compassion and the awareness of the oneness of all things (higher knowledge). This brings Wikipedia:ananda (joy or peace). Just as we celebrate the birth of our physical being, Deepavali is the celebration of this Inner Light.

While the story behind Deepavali and the manner of celebration varies from region to region (festive fireworks, worship, lights, sharing of sweets), the essence is the same – to rejoice in the Inner Light (Atman) or the underlying Reality of all things (Wikipedia:Brahman).

[edit] Dates

File:Krishna Narakasura.jpg
Krishna and Satyabhama fighting Narakasura's armies -Painting from the Wikipedia:Metropolitan Museum

Diwali falls on the one new moon night between mid-October and mid-November. Deepavali is celebrated for five days according to the lunisolar Wikipedia:Hindu Calendar. It begins in late Wikipedia:Ashvin (between September and October) and ends in early Kartika (between October and November). The first day is Dhan Teras. The last day is Yama Dvitiya, which signifies the second day of the light half of Kartika. Each day of Deepavali marks one celebration of the six principal stories associated with the festival.[8]

Wikipedia:Hindus have several significant events associated with Diwali:

  • The return of Wikipedia:Rama after 14 years of Wikipedia:Vanvas (banishment). To welcome his return, diyas (ghee lamps) were lit in rows of 20.
  • The killing of Wikipedia:Narakasura: Celebrated as Wikipedia:Naraka Chaturdashi, one day before Deepavali, it commemorates the killing of the evil demon Narakasura, who wreaked havoc. Wikipedia:Krishna's wife Wikipedia:Satyabhama killed Narakasura during the Wikipedia:Dwapara yuga. In another version of the belief, the demon was killed by Krishna or Krishna provoked his wife Satyabhama to kill Narshna, defeating Wikipedia:Indra.
  • Govardhan Puja is celebrated the day after Deepavali and is the day Krishna defeated Indra, the deity of thunder and rain. According to the story, Krishna saw preparations for an annual offering to Lord Indra and asked his father Nanda about it. He debated with the villagers about what their 'dharma' truly was. They were farmers, they should do their duty and concentrate on farming and protection of their cattle. He said that all human beings should do their 'karma' to the best of their ability and not pray for natural phenomenon. The villagers were convinced by Krishna, and did not proceed with the special puja (prayer). Indra was then angered, and flooded the village. Krishna lifted Wikipedia:Mount Govardhan and held it up to protect the people and cattle from the rain. Indra finally accepted defeat and recognized Krishna as supreme. Although this aspect of Krishna's life is sometimes ignored Template:Citation needed it sets up the basis of the 'karma' philosophy later detailed in the Wikipedia:Bhagavat Gita.

Other events associated with Diwali include:

  • Return of Pandavas after 12 years of Vanvas and one year of agyatavas (living incognito).
  • Start of Vikram Samvat, the Coronation of King Vikramaditya.

Deepavali celebrations are spread over five days, from Dhanteras to Bhaiduj. In some places like Maharshtra it starts with Vasu Baras.[9] All the days except Diwali are named according to their designation in the Wikipedia:Hindu calendar. The days are:

Houses full of lights
  1. Govatsa Dwadashi or Vasu Baras (27 Wikipedia:Ashvin or 12 Krishna Paksha Wikipedia:Ashvin): Go means cow and vatsa means calf. Dwadashi or Baras means the 12th day. On this day the cow and calf are worshiped. The story associated with this day is that of King Wikipedia:Prithu, son of the tyrant King Vena. Due to the ill rule of Vena, there was a terrible famine and earth stopped being fruitful. Prithu chased the earth, who is usually represented as cow, and ‘milked’ her, meaning that he brought prosperity to the land.
  2. Dhanatrayodashi or Dhan teras or Dhanwantari Triodasi[10] (28 Wikipedia:Ashvin or 13 Krishna Paksha Wikipedia:Ashvin): Dhana means wealth and Trayodashi means 13th day. This day falls on the 13th day of the second half of the lunar month. It is considered an auspicious day for buying utensils and gold, hence the name ‘Dhana’. This day is regarded as the Jayanti (Birth Anniversary) of God Wikipedia:Dhanvantari, the Physician of Gods, who came out during Wikipedia:Samudra manthan, the churning of the great ocean by the gods and the demons.
  3. Wikipedia:Naraka Chaturdashi (29 Wikipedia:Ashvin or 14 Krishna Paksha Wikipedia:Ashvin): Chaturdashi is the 14th day This was the day on which the demon Narakasura was killed by Krishna – an incarnation of Wikipedia:Vishnu. It signifies the victory of good over evil and light over darkness (Gujarati: Kali Chaudas, Rajasthan : Roop Chaudas). In southern India, this is the actual day of festivities. Hindus wake up before dawn, have a fragrant oil bath and dress in new clothes. They light small lamps all around the house and draw elaborate Wikipedia:kolams /Wikipedia:rangolis outside their homes. They perform a special puja with offerings to Krishna or Vishnu, as he liberated the world from the demon Narakasura on this day. It is believed that taking a bath before sunrise, when the stars are still visible in the sky is equivalent to taking a bath in the holy Wikipedia:Ganges. After the puja, children burst firecrackers heralding the defeat of the demon. As this is a day of rejoicing, many will have very elaborate breakfasts and lunches and meet family and friends.
  4. Wikipedia:Lakshmi Puja (30 Wikipedia:Ashvin or 15 Krishna Paksha Wikipedia:Ashvin): Lakshmi Puja marks the most important day of Diwali celebrations in North India. Hindu homes worship Wikipedia:Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and Wikipedia:Ganesh, the God of auspicious beginnings, and then light lamps in the streets and homes to welcome prosperity and well-being.
  5. Wikipedia:Bali Pratipada and Wikipedia:Govardhan Puja (1 Kartika or 1 Shukla Paksha Kartika) : In North India, this day is celebrated as Govardhan Puja, also called Annakoot, and is celebrated as the day Wikipedia:Krishna – an incarnation of god Wikipedia:Vishnu – defeated Wikipedia:Indra and by the lifting of Wikipedia:Govardhana hill to save his kinsmen and cattle from rain and floods. For Annakoot, large quantities of food are decorated symbolizing the Govardhan hill lifted by Krishna. In Wikipedia:Maharashtra, Wikipedia:Tamil Nadu and Wikipedia:Karnataka, it is celebrated as Bali-Pratipada or Bali Padyami. The day commemorates the victory of Vishnu in his dwarf form Wikipedia:Vamana over the demon-king Bali, who was pushed into the Wikipedia:patala. In Maharashtra, it is called as Padava or Nava Diwas (new day). Men present gifts to their wives on this day. It is celebrated as the first day of the Wikipedia:Vikram Samvat calender, in Wikipedia:Gujarat.
  6. Yama Dwitiya or Wikipedia:Bhaiduj (also Bhayyaduj, Bhaubeej or Bhayitika) (2 Kartika or 2 Shukla Paksha Kartika): on this day, brothers and sisters meet to express love and affection for each other (Gujarati: Bhai Bij, Bengali: Bhai Phota). It is based on a story when Wikipedia:Yama, lord of Death, visited his sister Wikipedia:Yami (the river Yamuna). Wikipedia:Yami welcomed Wikipedia:Yama with an Aarti and they had a feast together. Wikipedia:Yama gave a gift to Yami while leaving as a token of his appreciation. So, the day is also called 'YAMA DWITIYA'. Brothers visit their sisters’ place on this day and usually have a meal there, and also give gifts to their sisters.
Diwali being festival of lights, across India people celebrate it via symbolic diyas or Wikipedia:kandils (colourful paper lanterns) as an integral part of Diwali decorations

[edit] Lakshmi Puja

Main article: Lakshmi Puja

Deepavali marks the end of the Wikipedia:harvest season in most of India. Farmers give thanks for the bounty of the year gone by, and pray for a good harvest for the year to come. Traditionally this marked the closing of accounts for businesses dependent on the agrarian cycle, and is the last major celebration before winter. Wikipedia:Lakshmi symbolizes wealth and prosperity, and her blessings are invoked for a good year ahead.

There are two legends that associate the worship of Lakshmi on this day. According to the first legend, on this day, Lakshmi emerged from Kshira Sagar, the Ocean of Milk, during the great churning of the oceans, Wikipedia:Samudra manthan. The second legend (more popular in western India) relates to the Wikipedia:Vamana avatar of the big three Vishnu, the incarnation he assumed to kill the demon king Bali. On this day, Vishnu came back to his abode the Wikipedia:Vaikuntha; so those who worship Lakshmi receive the benefit of her benevolent mood, and are blessed with mental, physical and material well-being.[11]

As per spiritual references, on this day "Lakshmi-panchayatan" enters the Universe. Vishnu, Indra, Kubera, Gajendra and Lakshmi are elements of this "panchayatan" (a group of five). The tasks of these elements are:

  • Lakshmi: Divine Energy (Wikipedia:Shakti) which provides energy to all the above activities.
  • Vishnu: Happiness (happiness and satisfaction)
  • Wikipedia:Kubera: Wealth (generosity; one who shares wealth)
  • Wikipedia:Indra: Opulence (satisfaction due to wealth)
  • Gajendra: Carries the wealth

[edit] Significance in other religions

Diwali also has significance in other religions.

[edit] Jainism

Diwali has a very special significance in Wikipedia:Jainism, just like Wikipedia:Buddha Purnima, the date of Buddha's Wikipedia:Nirvana, is for Buddhists as Wikipedia:Easter is for Christians. Wikipedia:Lord Mahavira, the last of the Wikipedia:Jain Wikipedia:Tirthankaras, attained Wikipedia:Nirvana or Wikipedia:Moksha on this day at Wikipedia:Pavapuri on Oct. 15, 527 BC, on Chaturdashi of Kartika, as Tilyapannatti of Yativrashaba from the sixth century states:

Mahavira is responsible for establishing the Wikipedia:Dharma followed by Jains even today. According to tradition, the chief disciple of Wikipedia:Mahavira, Ganadhara Wikipedia:Gautam Swami also attained complete knowledge (Kevalgyana) on this day, thus making Diwali one of the most important Jain festivals.

Mahavira attained his nirvana at the dawn of the Wikipedia:amavasya (new moon). According to the Wikipedia:Kalpasutra by Wikipedia:Acharya Wikipedia:Bhadrabahu, 3rd century BC, many gods were present there, illuminating the darkness.[12] The following night was pitch black without the light of the gods or the moon. To symbolically keep the light of their master's knowledge alive:

16 Gana-kings, 9 Malla and 9 Lichchhavi, of Kasi and Kosal, illuminated their doors. They said: "Since the light of knowledge is gone, we will make light of ordinary matter" ("गये से भवुज्जोये, दव्वुज्जोयं करिस्समो").
File:The Rangoli of Lights.jpg
Wikipedia:Rangoli, decorations made from coloured powder, is popular during Diwali

Dipavali was mentioned in Wikipedia:Jain books as the date of the Wikipedia:nirvana of Wikipedia:Mahavira. In fact, the oldest reference to Diwali is a related word, dipalikaya, which occurs in Harivamsha-Purana, written by Acharya Wikipedia:Jinasena[13] and composed in the Shaka Samvat era in the year 705.

ततस्तुः लोकः प्रतिवर्षमादरत् प्रसिद्धदीपलिकयात्र भारते |
समुद्यतः पूजयितुं जिनेश्वरं जिनेन्द्र-निर्वाण विभूति-भक्तिभाक् |२० |
tatastuh lokah prativarsham-araat ako
prasiddha-deepalikaya-aatra bharate
samudyatah poojayitum jineshvaram
jinendra-nirvana vibhuti-bhaktibhak
Translation: The gods illuminated Pavanagari by lamps to mark the occasion. Since that time, the people of Bharat celebrate the famous festival of "Dipalika" to worship the Jinendra (i.e. Lord Mahavira) on the occasion of his nirvana.

Dipalikaya roughly translates as "light leaving the body". Dipalika, which can be roughly translated as "splendiferous light of lamps", is used interchangeably with the word "Diwali".

Vira Nirvana Wikipedia:Samvat: The Jain year starts with Pratipada following Diwali. Vira Nirvana Wikipedia:Samvat 2534 starts with Diwali 2007. The Jain business people traditionally started their accounting year from Diwali. The relationship between the Vir and Shaka era is given in Titthogali Painnaya and Dhavalaa by Acharya Wikipedia:Virasena:
पंच य मासा पंच य वास छच्चेव होन्ति वाससया|
परिणिव्वुअस्स अरिहितो तो उप्पन्नो सगो राया||

Thus the Nirvana occurred 605 years and 5 months before the Saka era.

On 21 October 1974 the 2500th Nirvana Mahotsava was celebrated by the Jains throughout India.[7]

[edit] Sikhism

Replica of Pava temple at Pansara. Mahavira attained Nirvana at Pava

For Wikipedia:Sikhs, Diwali is important because it celebrates the release from prison of the sixth guru, Wikipedia:Guru Hargobind Ji, (hence also called "Bandi Chorr Devas"), and 52 other princes from the Gwalior Fort in 1619. The Sikhs celebrated the return of Guru Har Gobind by lighting the Golden Temple and this tradition continues today.

Guru Gaddi is celebrated near or at the time of Diwali. It may be celebrated on the 3rd of November, the date that the tenth Wikipedia:Guru, Wikipedia:Guru Gobind Singh, declared that the holy Sikh book Wikipedia:Guru Granth Sahib[14] would from that moment on be the Guru or the Guiding Force. The message was delivered in 1708 by Wikipedia:Guru Gobind Singh Ji at Nanded in the state (Wikipedia:States of India) of Wikipedia:Maharashtra in India, who established Wikipedia:Khalsa and conferred the status of the Guru to the Wikipedia:Guru Granth Sahib and elevated it as the everlasting Guru.[15]

The tercentenary celebrations of the occasion were called Guru-da-gaddi and were celebrated on 3 November 2008 in Nanded in Maharshtra.[16][17][18][19][20][21] The occasion comes after celebrations of the 300 Years of Khalsa panth established by Wikipedia:Guru Gobind Singh ji in Wikipedia:1699.

Canadian Sikhs celebrate the compilation and esconcement of the holy book at Wikipedia:Harimandir Sahib in India on Sept 13, 1604.[22]

[edit] Martyrdom of Bhai Mani Singh Ji

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An important Wikipedia:Sikh event associated with Diwali is the martyrdom of the elderly Sikh scholar and strategist Wikipedia:Bhai Mani Singh in Wikipedia:1737. Bhai Mani Singh was the Wikipedia:Granthi (keeper/reader of Sikh scripture) of Harmandir Sahib (popularly known as the Golden Temple). He transcribed the final version of Wikipedia:Guru Granth Sahib dictated to him by Wikipedia:Guru Gobind Singh in 1704.

Bhai Mani Singh assumed charge of Wikipedia:Harmandir Sahib's management in 1708. In 1737, he received permission from Zakariya Khan, the then Mughal governor of Punjab, to hold a religious gathering of the Wikipedia:Khalsa for celebrating Bandi Chhorh Diwas on the auspicious day of Diwali for a large tax of 5000 Wikipedia:Rupees. He expected to put together the required sum from contribution made by the Sikhs who would assemble that day. But on discovering Zakariya Khan's plot to kill the Sikhs during the gathering, he sent out messages warning them not to turn up for the meeting. As a result the tax could not be paid and Zakariya Khan ordered Bhai Mani Singh's execution at Wikipedia:Lahore. It is also believed that this event, along with other Sikh martyrdoms, gave further momentum to the Khalsa struggle for freedom and eventual success in establishing the Khalsa rule in the north of Wikipedia:Delhi.

[edit] Uprising against the Mughal Empire

The festival of Diwali became the second most important day after Wikipedia:Baisakhi, when the Wikipedia:Khalsa was formally established by the Tenth Guru Wikipedia:Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.

The Sikh struggle against Wikipedia:Mughal Empire's atrocities on non-Muslims, especially on Sikhs, which intensified in the 18th century, came to be centred around this day. After the execution of Wikipedia:Banda Bahadur in 1716, who had led the agrarian uprising in Punjab, the Sikhs started the tradition of deciding matters concerning the community at the biennial meetings which took place at Wikipedia:Amritsar on the first of Baisakh and at Diwali. These assemblies were known as the Wikipedia:Sarbat Khalsa and a resolution passed by it became a Wikipedia:Gurmata ('Decree of the Guru').

[edit] Buddhism

While not a large occasion in some Buddhists including Wikipedia:Newar Buddhists celebrate Diwali through the chanting of mantras and remembering Emperor Wikipedia:Ashoka who converted to Buddhism on this day, and therefore Buddhists also know the festival as Wikipedia:Ashok Vijayadashami. Their temples and monasteries are well decorated during this time and the Buddha is worshiped with full honors.[23][24][25]

[edit] Regional variations within India

The celebrations vary in different regions:

[edit] Southern India

  • In Southern India, the festival is called Deepavali.
  • In Wikipedia:Southern India, Narakasura vadha is the main day, with celebrations involving bursting firecrackers at dawn after Lakshmi puja. It is celebrated as Narakachaturdashi in Karnataka,
  • Deepavali is one of the seven most important festivals of Wikipedia:Andhra Pradesh. It is very popular with children who celebrate Deepavali because of the excitement of bursting firecrackers. Special shops to sell firecrackers are set up in all towns, cities and bigger villages. There are some traditional customs followed such as buying new clothes for this festival. Buying new home or vehicles is considered auspicious. Special sweets are made too. Some eateries in Hyderabad make some delicious sweets during Deepavali which will not be available at any other time. Meat and alcohol are generally not consumed. Tradition has it that Andhraites gift sweets during Deepavali. Some areas host local stage story telling called Hari Katha. Some areas may put a huge Narakasura dummy made with firecrackers. This will be burst by a person dressed as Lord Krishna or, more accurately, a costume of Wikipedia:Satyabhama, the consort of Wikipedia:Lord Krishna, who actually killed the demon Wikipedia:Narakasura; an event that is celebrated as Deepavali for generations. The evening sky of Deepavali is a colourful sight to watch.
  • Wikipedia:Kerala is the only state in India where Diwali is not a major festival. Traditionally, Deepavali celebrations in Kerala are on a low key affair. The native people of Kerala do not celebrate Diwali. But places in Kerala where prominent Tamil, Bengali and various North Indian communities resides, Diwali Festival is celebrated with great zest. People of these communities arrange grand feasts and go to temples and fairs, visit friends and relatives.

[edit] In Tamil Nadu

File:Sivakasi fireworks1.jpg
Sivakasi fireworks on display.

In Tamil Nadu it is celebrated as Deepavali. People celebrate this by lighting deepams, bursting firecrackers, wearing new clothes and sharing sweets. A traditional visit to the Temple is a significant ritual of the day.

  • The city Wikipedia:Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu is the capital of India’s firecracker industry with about 8,000 factories, producing 90 percent of the country's total fireworks output.It also has the world's largest fireworks manufacturing unit.

[edit] In Karnataka

The entire house is cleaned and new clothes are purchased for the entire family which is followed by lighting of oil lamps around the house and bursting firecrackers.

[edit] In Andhra Pradesh

In Northern India, Diwali is usually celebrated during the evenings with fireworks and diyas. However, in Andhra Pradesh, the festivities start out at the crack of dawn and carry on well into the night. Most people make a trip to the local temple along with their families to seek the blessings of their respective Gods. The night sky is lit up with a scintillating array of noisy fireworks.

People clean/white-wash or paint/decorate their homes as it is a very auspicious day; to welcome the goddess of wealth and prosperity i.e. Lakshmi devi to their homes. Homes are lit up with hundreds of diyas and colorful Deepavali Rangolis (link) adorn the doorways. After all this preparation all the members of the family perform the Lakshmi pooja. Another custom involves decorating homes with paper figures.

Festivities cut across boundaries to move on from the small villages to the big towns, often beginning almost a month before Deepawali. Sales of expensive silk saris, jewellery, ornaments, and household goods increase. From the poor to the rich, everyone indulges in the largest shopping spree of the year. Sweets, which are an integral part of any festival in Andhra Pradesh, are prepared or purchased from shops. The festival is full of messages depicting one or more aspects of human life, relationships, and ancient traditions.

[edit] In Maharashtra

Diwali lanterns

In Wikipedia:Maharashtra, Diwali starts from Vasubaras which is the 12th day of the 2nd half of the Marathi month Ashvin. This day is celebrated by performing an Wikipedia:Aarti of the cow and its calf- which is a symbol of love between mother and her baby.

The next day is Dhana Trayodashi. This day is of special importance for traders and business people. It is also considered an auspicious day for making important purchases, especially metals, including kitchenware and precious metals like silver and gold.

This is followed by Naraka Chaturdashi. On this day people get up early in the morning and take their bath before sunrise while stars are still visible. Bathing is an elaborate process on this day with abundant use of ‘ubtans’, oils and perfumes, and is preceded by an Wikipedia:Aarti performed on the person by some lady, usually mother or wife. The whole process is referred to as ‘abhyanga-snaan’.

Then comes Lakshmi- pooja. It occurs on Amavasya i.e. no moon day. The dark night is illuminated by lamps and at dusk firecrackers are burst. New account books are opened after a pooja. Generally the traders do not make any payments on that day (according to their belief Lakshmi should not be given away but must come home). In every household, cash, jewellery and an idol of the goddess Lakshmi is worshipped. Friends, neighbours and relatives are invited over and celebrations are in full swing. The broom used to clean one's house is also worshipped as a symbol of Lakshmi in some places .

Padwa' is the 1st day of the new month – Kartik in the Hindu calendar. It marks the start of Hindu financial year. Its a special day for Husband and wife. The wife puts tilak on her husbands forehead and gets an expensive gift. In recent times there is a growing trend of organising a cultural event called 'Diwali Padwa' early in the morning.

Bhaubeej – it is the time when the bond of love between a brother and sister is further strengthened as the sister asks God for her brother/s' long and successful life while she receives presents from her beloved brothers.

[edit] In Orissa

Deepavali is celebrated with great joy. Rows of oil lamps, candles adorn the thresholds of all houses. Firecrackers are burst, sweetmeals are relished and distributed. Some people also worship family goddess Wikipedia:Mahavidya . Wikipedia:Tarpanam is done in the early morning of deepavali. All the members of the household gather together just after dusk. A rangoli of a sailboat is made on the ground. The boat has seven chambers. Over the drawing of each different chamber several items are kept - cotton, mustard, salt, asparagus root, turmeric and a wild creeper. Over the central chamber are the offerings meant for prasad. Perched over the prasad is a jute stem with a cloth wick tied around the edge. It is lit at the beginning of the puja. All members of the family hold a bundle of jute stems in their hands, Lighting their respective bundles from the flame on the rangoli, they raise them skywards chanting:

Beside the rangoli, a mortar and pestle and a plough are also kept and worshiped. After the puja and offerings, the family celebrates Diwali festival by bursting firecrackers. As in other regions, most people prefer to celebrate it in their own homes, though family gatherings are also common. For Diwali houses are brightly lit, with the doors and windows kept open as Lakshmi is supposed to visit every home, and you can't afford to leave it dark and abandoned. Various kinds of Wikipedia:Pithas are prepared and given to the deities and forefathers,and enjoyed with family and friends.The festival is a famous affair in Wikipedia:puri ,Wikipedia:Bhadrak ,Wikipedia:Rourkela,Wikipedia:Kendrapara, Wikipedia:Cuttack &Wikipedia:Jajpur area.[2]

[edit] In Bengal & Assam

Kali Puja is light-up night for Wikipedia:Kolkata & Wikipedia:Assam, corresponding to the festival of Diwali (pronounced Dipabali in Bengali), where people light candles in memory of the souls of departed ancestors. The goddess Wikipedia:Kali is worshipped for whole night on one night during this festival. This is also a night of Wikipedia:fireworks, with local youth burning sparklers and firecrackers throughout the night.

[edit] In Goa and Konkan

Diwali begins in Konkan and Goa on the day of Naraka Chaturdashi.The houses are cleaned and decorated with Kandil, lamps, mango leaves, and marigold flowers. The utensils are made to shine, filled with water, and decorated for the holy bath the following morning. On this day, paper-made effigies of Wikipedia:Narakasura, filled with grass and firecrackers symbolising evil, are made.[26] These effigies are burnt at around four o'clock in the morning the following day/ Firecrackers are burst, and people return home to take a scented oil bath. Lamps are lit in a lineThe women of the house perform Wikipedia:aarti of the men,gifts are exchanged,a bitter berry called as kareet is crushed under the feet in token of killing Narkasur, symbolising evil and removal of ignorance.[27] Melas are to be found in many towns and villages. A mela generally becomes a market day in the countryside when farmers buy and sell produce. Girls and women dress attractively during the festival. They wear colourful clothing and new jewellery, and their hands are decorated with Wikipedia:henna designs.

Among the many activities that take place at a mela are performances by Wikipedia:jugglers, acrobats, snake charmers and Wikipedia:fortune tellers. Food stalls are set up, selling sweet and spicy foods. There are a variety of rides at the fair, which include Wikipedia:Ferris wheels and rides on animals such as Wikipedia:elephants and Wikipedia:camels. Activities for children, such as puppet shows, occur throughout the day.

[edit] In other parts of the world

Diwali is celebrated in various parts of the world, particularly those with large populations of Indian and Hindu origin. These include countries such as Sri Lanka, Myanmar,[28] Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Mauritius, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Guyana, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, the United Kingdom[28] and the United States. With more and more Indians now migrating to various parts of the world, the number of countries where Diwali / Deepavali is celebrated has been gradually increasing. While in some countries it is celebrated mainly by Indian expatriates, in others it has become part of the general local culture. In most of these countries Diwali is celebrated on the same lines as described in this article with some minor variations. Some important variations are worth mentioning.

In Nepal, Diwali is known as "Tihar" or "Swanti". It is celebrated during the October/November period. Here the festival is celebrated for five days and the traditions vary from those followed in India. On the first day (Kaag tihar), crows are given offerings, considering them to be divine messengers. On the second day (Kukur tihar), dogs are given food for their honesty. On the third day, Laxmi puja is performed. This is the last day according to Nepal Sambat, so many of the businessmen clear their accounts on this day and on finishing it, worship goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. The fourth day is celebrated as new year. Cultural processions and other celebrations are observed in this day. The Newars celebrate it as "Maha Puja", a special ritual in which the body is worshipped to keep it fit and healthy for the year ahead on this day. On the fifth and final day called "Bhai Tika", brothers and sisters meet and exchange gifts.

In Nepal, family gathering is more significant during Diwali. People in the community play "Deusi and Bhailo" which is a kind of singing and dancing forming a group. People go to all the houses in the community and play songs and dance, and give blessing to the visited house, whereas the home owner gives some food like rice grains, Roti, fruits and money. After the festival, people donate some part of collected money and food to the charity or welfare groups and rest of the money and food, they go for picnic. People also play swing called Dore Ping made out of thick ropes and Pirke Ping or Rangate Ping made out of woods.

In Sri Lanka, this festival is also called "Deepavali" and is celebrated by the Tamil community. On this day, it is traditional for people to wear new clothes and exchange gifts. Burning of firecrackers in the evening of the festival is a common practice of this festival. Hindus light oil lamps to invite the blessings of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. The festival is marked by illumination, making of toys of enamel and making of figures out of crystal sugar popularly known as Misiri. Srilanka's celebration may lack many of the traditional aspects of Diwali such as games, fireworks, singing and dancing, but the tradition of a large meal is admirably preserved.

In Malaysia, Diwali is known as "Hari Deepavali," and is celebrated during the seventh month of the Hindu solar calendar. It is a federal public holiday throughout Malaysia. In many respects it resembles the traditions followed in the Indian subcontinent. 'Open houses' are held where Hindu Malaysians (Malaysian Tamils) welcome fellow Malaysians of different races and religions to their house for a scrumptious meal. This is a practice unique to Malaysia and shows the goodwill and friendly ties practised by all Malaysians during any festive occasion.

In Singapore, the festival is called "Deepavali", and is a gazetted public holiday. Observed primarily by the minority Indian community (Tamils), it is typically marked by a light-up in the Little India district, the heart of the Indian community. Apart from the light-up, other activities such as bazaars, exhibitions, parades and concerts will also take place in Little India. The Hindu Endowment Board of Singapore along with Singapores' government organizes many of these cultural events during the Deepavali period.

In Trinidad and Tobago, communities all over the islands get together and celebrate the festival. One major celebration that stands out is the Diwali Nagar, or Village of the Festival of Lights. It features stage performances by the east Indian cultural practitioners, a folk theatre featuring skits and plays, an exhibition on some aspect of Hinduism, displays by various Hindu religious sects and social organizations, nightly worship of Lakshmi, lighting of deeyas, performances by various schools related to Indian culture, and a food court with Indian and non-Indian vegetarian delicacies. The festival culminates with magnificent fireworks displays ushering in Diwali. Thousands of people participate in an atmosphere devoid of alcohol and in a true family environment.

In Britain, Hindus and Sikhs celebrate Diwali with great enthusiasm. People clean and decorate their homes with lamps and candles. A popular type of candle is a diya. People also give each other sweets such as laddoo and barfi, and the different communities may gather for a religious ceremony and get-together. It is also an important time to contact family in India and perhaps exchange gifts. Diwali is becoming well known in Britain and some non-Indians join in. Leicester plays hosts to some of the biggest celebrations outside of India.[29] Diwali also coincides with British Bonfire Night traditions on November the 5th. In the East End of London, a kind of joint festival has evolved where everyone enjoys the same fire and fireworks for their own diverse reasons.

In the United States, with increasing Indian population, Diwali is assuming significant importance year after year. Diwali was first celebrated in the White House in 2003 and was given official status by the United States Congress in 2007. Barack Obama became the first president to personally attend Diwali at the White House in 2009. On the eve of his first visit to India as the President of United States, Obama released an official statement sharing best wishes with "Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhist" for Diwali.[30] Indians in the US celebrate Diwali in different parts of the US, just as in India. The Diwali Mela in Cowboys Stadium boasted an attendance of 100,000 people in 2009. In 2009, San Antonio became the first U.S. city to sponsor an official Diwali celebration including a fireworks display and 5000 people in attendance.

In Australia, Diwali is celebrated publicly among the people of Indian origin and the local Australians in Melbourne. On 21 July 2002 an organisation “The Australian Indian Innovations Incorporated” (AIII) consisting of a conglomerate of independent organisations and individuals was formed to celebrate Indian Festivals In Melbourne. AIII facilitated opportunities to depict the cultural kaleidoscope of India and assist Indians in Melbourne to showcase Indian art, culture, style, traditions and food via various activities, seminars, festivals, fairs and events. The first Inaugural Diwali Festival-2002”, was held at Sandown Race Course on Sunday 13 October 2002. Since then until October 2008, about 140000 people visited this Australian Indian Cultural Extravaganza filled with culture, fun and cuisine. This 10 Hour Festival is depicting India through 50 Stalls, 10 Food stalls and an 8 hour cultural programme with Dj, Children's rides and spectacular fire works over the last 7 years.

In New Zealand, Diwali is celebrated publicly among many of the South Asian diaspora cultural groups. There are main public festivals in Auckland and Wellington, with other events around the country becoming more popular and visible. An official reception has been held at the New Zealand Parliament since 2003.[31]

[edit] References

  1. The name of the festival in various regional languages include:
    दीपावली, Dīpāvali, தீபாவளி, दीपावली or तिहार, दिवाली, દિવાળી, दिवाळी, ದೀಪಾವಳಿ, धाकली दिवाळी, ദീപാവലി, ଦୀପାବଳୀ, ਦਿਵਾਲੀ, దీపావళి, دیوالی Dīvālī
  2. Indian Government Holiday Calendar. National Portal of India. URL accessed on 15 March 2010.
  3. YourSingapore.com - Deepavali
  4. Wikipedia:Monier Monier-Williams. Sanskrit-English Dictionary, p. 481.
  5. 5.0 5.1 http://hinduism.about.com/od/diwalifestivaloflights/a/diwali.htm
  6. (2006) Fairs and Festivals of India, Pustak Mahal.
  7. 7.0 7.1 A. N., ({{{year}}}). "Mahavira and His Teachings," Journal of the American Oriental Society, 102, 231–232.
  8. Diwali.
  9. Importance of various days of Deepavali. hindujagruti.org. URL accessed on 2008-10-11.
  10. Dhanteras.
  11. Diwali History
  12. Jacobi, Hermann (1884). Sacred Books of the East.
  13. Akademi, Sahitya (1988). Encyclopaedia of Indian literature.
  14. Guru Granth Sahib on sikhdharma.org
  15. http://news.webindia123.com/news/articles/India/20080926/1063510.html
  16. [http://www.maharashtra.gov.in/english/chiefminister/On_path_of_progress.pdf Maharashtra.gov
  17. Gur-Da-Gaddi celebrations
  18. Indopia
  19. Current Affairs ddinews.gov.in
  20. outlook India
  21. 300th anniversary
  22. Sikhs celebrate holy day The Mississauga News, Sep 13, 2009
  23. http://www.itslife.in/2008/10/diwali-festival-significance-in-different-religions
  24. http://www.buddhachannel.tv/portail/spip.php?article3291
  25. http://www.karmapa-news.org/index.php?id=350
  26. Gajrani, S. (2004). History, religion & culture of India, p. 109, Gyan Publishing House.
  27. Kadowala, Dilip (1998). Diwali, London: Evans Brothers Limited.
  28. 28.0 28.1 Diwali Celebrations Around The World. diwalifestival.org. URL accessed on 2006-08-27.
  29. [1]
  30. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/11/04/statement-president-diwali
  31. , (2005). "Diwali Downunder: Transforming and Performing Indian Tradition in Aotearoa/New Zealand," New Zealand Journal of Media Studies, 9, 25–35.

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