Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is a Hindu festival of lights, which is celebrated every autumn in the northern hemisphere and spring in southern hemisphere
Updated: October 17, 2018
Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is a Hindu festival of lights, which is celebrated every autumn in the northern hemisphere and spring in southern hemisphere. One of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, Diwali symbolizes the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.
The temples and buildings within the communities that observe Diwali are brightly illuminated during the celebration. The preparations, and rituals, for the festival typically last five days. The festival generally falls between mid-October and mid-November as per Gregorian calendar.
Preparation include cleaning, renovating and decorating their homes and offices. During the celebration, people adorn themselves in their finest clothes, illuminate the interior and exterior of their homes with diyas that could be lamps or candles, offer puja to Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, light fireworks, do family feasts, where sweets and gifts are shared. Although the festival originated in the Indian subcontinent, significant regional variability in the names of the festive days as well as the rituals do exist. Diwali is usually celebrated eighteen days after the Dussehra festival with Dhanteras. This is marked as the first day of the festival when celebrants prepare by cleaning their homes and decorate the floor with rangoli. The second day is Choti Diwali, or equivalent in north India, while for Hindus in the south of India it is the proper day of Diwali. Western, central, eastern and northern Indian communities observe Diwali on the third day and the darkest night of the traditional month.
In some parts of India, the day after Diwali is marked with the Goverdhan Puja and Diwali Padva, which is dedicated to the relationship between wife and husband. Some Hindu communities mark the last day as Bhai Dooj, which is dedicated to the bond between sister and brother, while other Hindu and Sikh craftsmen communities mark this day as Vishwakarma Puja and observe it by performing maintenance in their work spaces and offering prayers.
Other faiths in India also celebrate their respective festivals along with Diwali. The Jains also observe their own Diwali, which marks the final liberation of Mahavira. The Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas to mark the release of Guru Hargobind from a Mughal Empire prison, while Newar Buddhists, unlike other Buddhists, celebrate Diwali by worshiping Lakshmi.
The festival of Diwali is an official holiday in most of the countries. Diwali or Divali is from the Sanskrit dipavali which means row or series of lights. The conjugated term is derived from the Sanskrit words dipa, means lamp, light, lantern, candle which glows, shines, illuminates or knowledge and avali, means a row, range, continuous line, series. The five day celebration is observed every year in early autumn after summer harvest and coincides with the new moon, known as the amasvasya, and the darkest night of the Hindu lunisolar calendar. The festivities begin two days before the night of the new moon, on Dhanteras, and extends two days after, the second day of the first fortnight of the month of Kartik. This night ends the lunar month of Ashwin and starts the month of Kartika. The darkest night is the main day of celebration and coincides with the mid of October or early November in the Gregorian calendar.
Diwali is an official holiday in most of the countries, while the other festive days are regionally observed as either public or optional restricted holidays in India. Although the days and rituals are named differently in Nepal, it is also a multi-day festival with the climax being called the Tihar festival by Hindus and Swanti festival by Buddhists.