Interesting facts about Diwali

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Interesting facts about Diwali

Photograph by Allies Interactive

When it comes to winter holidays, most of the people think of Christmas and Halloween; however, for Hindus, there is another winter holiday that cannot be missed that is - Diwali. The Hindu holiday of Diwali is India’s biggest and brightest national holiday. But Indians around the world come together to celebrate the festival of lights. Diwali or Deepavali is the Hindu festival of lights celebrated every year in autumn in the northern hemisphere.

Popularly known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali has many interesting facts worth knowing.

As the great Indian festival of lights approaches, let's take a look at some of the lesser-known facts that make it one of the most celebrated holiday around the world.

So, here they are -

  • Diwali is best to celebrate with family, friends and loved ones. During this festival, people exchange sweets and gifts, host dinners and prayer to goddess Lakshmi.

  • Diwali is derived from the Sanskrit fusion word Dīpāvali, formed from dīpa ( "light" or "lamp" ) and āvalī ( "series, line, row" ). Dīpāvali or Deepavali thus meant a "row" or "series of lights". Its celebration includes millions of lights shining on housetops, outside doors and windows, around temples and other buildings in the communities and countries where it is observed.

  • It is an official holiday in Fiji, Guyana, India, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

  • Its celebration includes millions of lights shining on housetops, outside doors and windows, around temples and other buildings in the communities and countries where it is observed.

  • One of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, it spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair.

  • The festival preparations and rituals typically extend over a five-day period, but the main festival night of Diwali coincides with the dark night of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika in Bikram Sambat Calendar (the month of Aippasi in Tamil Calendar).

  • In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali night falls between mid-October and mid-November.

  • The Victory of Rama: according to the epic Ramayana, it was the new moon day of Kartik when Lord Ram with wife Sita and younger brother Lakshman returned to Ayodhya after vanquishing Ravana and conquering Lanka. The citizens of Ayodhya decorated the entire city with the earthen lamps and illuminated it like never before.

Diwali

Photograph by phive

  • Goddess Lakshmi’s Incarnation: The Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi incarnated on the new moon day (Amavasya) of the Kartik month during the churning of the ocean (Samudra-manthan), hence the association of Diwali with Lakshmi.

  • Vishnu Rescued Lakshmi: On this Diwali day, Lord Vishnu in his fifth incarnation as Vamana-avatar rescued Lakshmi from the prison of King Bali and this is another reason of worshipping Ma Lakshmi on Diwali.

  • The Return of the Pandavas. According to the great epic Mahabharata, it was Kartik Amavashya when the Pandavas appeared from their 12 years of banishment as a result of their defeat in the hands of the Kauravas at the game of dice (gambling). The subjects who loved the Pandavas celebrated the day by lighting the earthen lamps.

  • Krishna Killed Narakasura. On the day preceding Diwali, Lord Krishna killed the demon king Narakasura and rescued 16,000 women from his captivity. The celebration of this freedom went on for two days including the Diwali day as a victory festival.

  • Special Day for the Arya Samaj: It was the new moon day of Kartik (Diwali day) when Maharshi Dayananda, one of the greatest reformers of Hinduism and the founder of Arya Samaj attained his nirvana.

  • Coronation of Vikramaditya. One of the greatest Hindu King Vikramaditya was coronated on the Diwali day, hence Diwali became a historical event as well.

  • Special Day for the Jains: Mahavir Tirthankar, considered to be the founder of modern Jainism also attained his nirvana on Diwali day.

  • Diwali marks the end of the harvest season

  • India has a largely agrarian economy and festivals often coincide with the change in seasons. Diwali marks the end of the harvest season and the onset of winter. During Diwali, farmers thank deities for the bountiful harvest they received and pray for a prosperous harvest for next year. People especially worship goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, during this time for prosperity and wellbeing.

  • Special Day for the Sikhs. The third Sikh Guru Amar Das institutionalized Diwali as a Red-Letter Day when all Sikhs would gather to receive the Gurus blessings.

Diwali

Photograph by Pikoso.kz

  • In 1577, the foundation stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar was laid on Diwali.

  • It’s also Bandi Chhor Divas. In 1619, the sixth Sikh Guru Hargobind, who was held by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir, was released from the Gwalior fort along with 52 kings.

  • It’s also Kali Puja time. Kali Puja or Shyama Puja is a festival dedicated to the goddess Kali, which falls on the new moon day of the Hindu month Kartik - which coincides with the Laksmi Puja day during Diwali.

  • Part of Diwali festivities are the all-night card parties that take place. According to Hindu myths, it was believed that Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva often played games of dice. On the day of Diwali too, they gambled, and Parvati defeated Shiva. So she announced that whoever gambles on Diwali will acquire wealth, irrespective of whether they win or lose.  The scene has been immortalized on the stone at the eighth century Kailash Temple in Ellora.

  • Diwali is celebrated in a similar manner in Odisha. People make a rangoli of a sailboat with seven chambers and on each chamber, several items are kept, like cotton, salt, mustard, etc. With a jute stem in hand, all members of the family then light their respective bundles from the flame on the rangoli, raise them upwards and call out to their forefathers.

  • Diwali marks the Hindu new year. It is the largest and most celebrated festival in India.

  • Tihar or swanti are the names referred to Diwali in Nepal and on the fourth day, the Hindu god of death, Yama is worshipped for longer life of people for a longer life of the people.

  • According to Nirmal Puran, Diwali celebrations are referred to as Sukh Sauptika which literally means to sleep with happiness. Kashmiri Pandits still follow this age-old ritual today.

  • Diwali marks the beginning of the new financial; a year hence traders start it by opening the new book of accounts and offering prayers to Lord Ganesha.

  • The customary greeting associated with Diwali is ‘Shubh Deepavali’ which means ‘have an auspicious Diwali’.

Diwali

Photograph by Designsoul
 

Over 1 billion Hindus including friends and families are currently preparing for the festivities with ancient traditions from hundreds of thousands of years ago being remembered at this special time on the calendar. Candles will alight, prayers will be sent and a feast will be thrown as Hindus embark on a New Year.

Wish this Festival of Light brings your life with joy, happiness, and prosperity.

Happy Diwali and Kali Puja to all of you!