Diwali 2019 – Indian Festival of Light to be held on 27th October 2019




Diwali 2019 – Indian Festival of Light to be held on 27th October 2019

Diwali 2019 - Indian Festival of Light to be held on 27th October 2019Diwali 2019 – Indian Festival of Light to be held on 27th October 2019




Diwali 2019 – Indian Festival of Light to be held on 27th October 2019

Diwali, Deepavali or Dipavali is a four to five day-long (varying as per Hindu Calendar) festival of lights, which is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists every autumn in the northern hemisphere (spring in southern hemisphere). One of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, Diwali symbolises the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.”

Light is a metaphor for knowledge and consciousness. During the celebration, temples, homes, shops and office buildings are brightly illuminated. The preparations, and rituals, for the festival typically last five days, with the climax occurring on the third day coinciding with the darkest night of the Hindu lunisolar month Kartika. In the Gregorian calendar, the festival generally falls between mid-October and mid-November.




The five-day festival originated in the Indian subcontinent and is mentioned in early Sanskrit texts. The names of the festive days of Diwali, documented by Qa Kishore, as well as the rituals, vary by region. Diwali is usually celebrated eighteen days after the Dussehra (Dasara, Dasain) festival, with Dhanteras, or the regional equivalent, marking the first day of the festival when celebrants prepare by cleaning their homes and making decorations on the floor, such as rangoli. The second day is Naraka Chaturdashi, or the regional equivalent which for Hindus in the south of India is Diwali proper. Western, central, eastern and northern Indian communities observe main day of Diwali on the third day i.e. the day of Lakshmi Puja and the darkest night of the traditional month.

In some parts of India, the day after Lakshmi Puja is marked with the Govardhan Puja and Balipratipada(Padwa), which is dedicated to the relationship between wife and husband. Some Hindu communities mark the last day as Bhai Dooj or the regional equivalent, 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.




Some other faiths in India also celebrate their respective festivals alongside Diwali. The Jains 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 worshipping Lakshmi, while the Bengali Hindus generally celebrate Diwali, by worshipping Goddess Kali. The main day of the festival of Diwali i.e the day of Lakshmi Puja is an official holiday in Fiji,[24] Guyana, India, Malaysia (except Sarawak), Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.




The five-day celebration is observed every year in early autumn after the conclusion of the summer harvest and coincides with the new moon, known as the amāsvasya – the darkest night of the Hindu lunisolar calendar. The festivities begin two days before amāsvasya, on Dhanteras, and extends two days after, the second day of the first fortnight of the month of Kartik. According to Indologist, Constance Jones who specialises in religious sociology, this night ends the lunar month of Ashwin and starts the month of Kartika. The darkest night is the apex of the celebration and coincides with the second half of October or early November in the Gregorian calendar.




The festival climax is on the third day and is called the main Diwali. It is an official holiday in about a dozen countries, while the other festive days are regionally observed as either public or optional restricted holidays in India. In Nepal, it is also a multiday festival, although the days and rituals are named differently, with the climax being called the Tihar festival by Hindus and Swanti festival by Buddhists.




Diwali was also described by numerous travellers from outside India. In his 11th century memoir on India, the Persian traveller and historian Al Biruni wrote of Deepavali being celebrated by Hindus on the day of the New Moon in the month of Kartika. The Venetian merchant and traveller Niccolò de’ Conti visited India in the early 15th-century and wrote in his memoir, “on another of these festivals they fix up within their temples, and on the outside of the roofs, an innumerable number of oil lamps… which are kept burning day and night” and that the families would gather, “clothe themselves in new garments”, sing, dance and feast. The 16th-century Portuguese traveller Domingo Paes wrote of his visit to the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire, where Dipavali was celebrated in October with householders illuminating their homes, and their temples, with lamps.




Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Newar Buddhists, although for each faith it marks different historical events and stories, but nonetheless the festival represents the same symbolic victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil.




Diwali is a five-day festival, the height of which is celebrated on the third day coinciding with the darkest night of the lunar month. During the festival, Hindus, Jains and Sikhs illuminate their homes, temples and work spaces with diyas, candles and lanterns Hindus, in particular, have a ritual oil bath at dawn on each day of the festival. Diwali is also marked with fireworks and the decoration of floors with rangoli designs. Food is a major focus with families partaking in feasts and sharing mithai. The festival is an annual homecoming and bonding period not only for families, but also for communities and associations, particularly those in urban areas, which will organise activities, events and gatherings. Many towns organise community parades and fairs with parades or music and dance performances in parks. Some Hindus, Jains and Sikhs will send Diwali greeting cards to family near and far during the festive season, occasionally with boxes of Indian confectionery.




Diwali is a post-harvest festival celebrating the bounty following the arrival of the monsoon in the subcontinent. Depending on the region, celebrations include prayers before one or more Hindu deities, the most common being Lakshmi. According to David Kinsley, an Indologist and scholar of Indian religious traditions particularly in relation to goddess worship, Lakshmi symbolises three virtues: wealth and prosperity, fertility and abundant crops, as well as good fortune. Merchants seek Lakshmi’s blessings in their ventures and will ritually close their accounting year during Diwali. Fertility motifs appear in agricultural offerings brought before Lakshmi by farming families, who give thanks for the recent harvests and seek her blessings for prosperous future crops. A symbolic piece of traditional fertiliser, a dried piece of cow dung, is included in the ensemble in Odisha and Deccan region villages, an agricultural motif according to Kinsley. Another aspect of the festival is remembering the ancestors.




Dhanteras (Day 1)

Dhanteras, derived from Dhan meaning wealth and teras meaning thirteenth, marks the thirteenth day of the dark fortnight of Kartik and the beginning of Diwali. On this day, many Hindus clean their homes and business premises. They install diyas, small earthen oil-filled lamps that they light up for the next five days, near Lakshmi and Ganesha iconography. Women and children decorate doorways within homes and offices with rangoli, colourful designs made from rice flour, flower petals and coloured sand, while the boys and men decorate the roofs and walls of family homes, markets, and temples. The day also marks a major shopping day to purchase new utensils, home equipment, jewellery, firecrackers, and other items. On the evening of Dhanteras, families offer prayers (puja) to Lakshmi and Ganesha, and lay offerings of puffed rice, candy toys, rice cakes and batashas (hollow sugar cakes).




Naraka Chaturdashi, Chhoti Diwali (Day 2)

Naraka Chaturdashi also known as Chhoti Diwali, is the second day of festivities coinciding with the fourteenth day of the second fortnight of the lunar month. The term “chhoti” means little, while “Naraka” means hell and “Chaturdashi” means “fourteenth”. The day and its rituals are interpreted as ways to liberate any souls from their suffering in “Naraka”, or hell, as well as a reminder of spiritual auspiciousness. For some Hindus, it is a day to pray for the peace to the manes, or deified souls of one’s ancestors and light their way for their journeys in the cyclic afterlife. A mythological interpretation of this festive day is the destruction of the asura (demon) Narakasura by Krishna, a victory that frees 16,000 imprisoned princesses kidnapped by Narakasura.




Lakshmi Puja (Day 3)

The third day is the height of the festival, and coincides with the last day of the dark fortnight of the lunar month. This is the day when Hindu, Jain and Sikh temples and homes are aglow with lights, thereby making it the “festival of lights”. The word Deepawali comes from the word the Sanskrit word deep, which means an Indian lantern/lamp. The youngest members in the family visit their elders, such as grandparents and other senior members of the community, on this day. Small business owners give gifts or special bonus payments to their employees between Dhanteras and Diwali. Shops either do not open or close early on this day allowing employees to enjoy family time. Shopkeepers and small operations perform puja rituals in their office premises. Unlike some other festivals, the Hindu typically do not fast during Diwali and Lakshmi Puja, rather they feast and share the bounties of the season at their workplaces, community centres, temples and homes.




Annakut, Padwa, Govardhan Puja (Day 4)

The day after Diwali is the first day of the bright fortnight of the luni-solar calendar. It is regionally called as Annakut (heap of grain), Padwa, Goverdhan puja, Bali Pratipada, Bali Padyami, Kartik Shukla Pratipada and other names. According to one tradition, the day is associated with the story of Bali’s defeat at the hands of Vishnu. In another interpretation, it is thought to reference the legend of Parvati and her husband Shiva playing a game of dyuta (dice) on a board of twelve squares and thirty pieces, Parvati wins. Shiva surrenders his shirt and adornments to her, rendering him naked. According to Handelman and Shulman, as quoted by Pintchman, this legend is a Hindu metaphor for the cosmic process for creation and dissolution of the world through the masculine destructive power, as represented by Shiva, and the feminine procreative power, represented by Parvati, where twelve reflects the number of months in the cyclic year, while thirty are the number of days in its lunisolar month.




Bhai Duj, Bhau-Beej (Day 5)

The last day of the festival is called Bhai Duj (literally “brother’s day”), Bhau Beej, Bhai Tilak or Bhai Phonta. It celebrates the sister-brother bond, similar in spirit to Raksha Bandhan but it is the brother that travels to meet the sister and her family. This festive day is interpreted by some to symbolise Yama’s sister Yamuna welcoming Yama with a tilaka, while others interpret it as the arrival of Krishna at his sister’s, Subhadra, place after defeating Narakasura. Subhadra welcomes him with a tilaka on his forehead. The day celebrates the sibling bond between brother and sister. On this day the womenfolk of the family gather, perform a puja with prayers for the well being of their brothers, then return to a ritual of feeding their brothers with their hands and receiving gifts. According to Pintchman, in some Hindu traditions the women recite tales where sisters protect their brothers from enemies that seek to cause him either bodily or spiritual harm. In historic times, this was a day in autumn when brothers would travel to meet their sisters, or invite their sister’s family to their village to celebrate their sister-brother bond with the bounty of seasonal harvests




Diwali 2019 – Indian Festival of Light to be held on 27th October 2019

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