(CHAKRA) The bright (and we literally mean bright) auspicious festival of Deepavali (also widely known as the modern name Diwali) is by far the largest and most widely celebrated festival for Hindus and Indians globally. Diwali is also celebrated with strong festivities by Sikhs, Jains and even some Buddhist communities. Countries that celebrate Diwali include the United States of America, Suriname, Malaysia, Germany, Canada, Australia, UK, Trinidad, Guyana, Fiji, Mauritius, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Thailand, New Zealand and the hindu-majority island of Bali. Because Diwali (Deepavali) is celebrated by all Dharmic spiritual faiths (Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism), it is a very unique festival when compared to other major religious festivals across the World that primarily are celebrated by an exclusive faith group.
The correct and direct interpretation of Deepavali equates to a ‘row of lighted lamps’(lamps are more referred to as ‘diyas’ in India). Diwali also has strong symbolism on the battle of ‘Good vs. Evil’ and ‘Light vs. Dark’, therefore being called the ‘Festival of Lights’, when exported to English-speaking nations. Along with prayers(known as pujas in India), Diwali is a holiday time when families and friends visit each other, light candles & diyas, create colourful rangoli, play with fireworks, distribute Indian and Hindu sweets (mitai), dance and share traditional and religious stories & songs.
Diwali is not just a 1 day festival, it is celebrated for five-days, where the third day is celebrated as the primary ‘Diwali’ festival. Diwali is being celebrated on November 10th in 2015. A spectrum of different colored fireworks and lights are associated with Diwali. On this auspicious festive day, that symbolizes one’s journey of good over evil and light over dark, devotees light up diyas (candles) all around their own houses and businesses. They then perform Lakshmi Puja later in the day and pray for divine blessings of the female Goddess Lakshmi, who is a symbol of Power & Wealth. The festival of Deepavali is never complete without the distribution of gifts and mithai (indian sweets) to family (even far extended family) and friends. People also give Diwali presents similar to Christmas.
Here is a more in depth description of what Deepavali/Diwali means for Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists.
Deepavali Festival for Hindus
For all Hindu people, the festival holds an imperative meaning since the festival is reckoned with Lord Rama’s victory as the King of Ayodhya after his return to the kingdom from 14 years of exile along with his wife Sita and brother Laxman after killing the demon, King Ravana. The festival is celebrated by lighting diyas and candles to drive away the darkness of Amavasya.
The festival starts with Dhanteras on which most Indian business communities begin their financial year. The second day of the festival, Naraka Chaturdasi, marks the vanquishing of the demon Naraka by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama. Amavasya, the third day of Deepawali, marks the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth in her most benevolent mood, fulfilling the wishes of her devotees. Amavasya also tells the story of Lord Vishnu, who in his dwarf incarnation vanquished the Bali, and banished him to Patala. It is on the fourth day of Deepawali, Kartika Shudda Padyami, that Bali went to 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.
Diwali (Bandi Chhorh Divas) Festival for Sikhs
In Sikhism, Diwali is particularly important which they celebrate after the celebration of Bandi Chhorh Divas (the Day of Freedom), celebrating the release from prison of the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, and 52 other princes with him, in 1619. The Sikh tradition holds that the Emperor Jahangir had imprisoned Guru Hargobind Ji and 52 princes. Sikhs celebrated the return of their Guru by lighting the Sri Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) and this tradition continues today.
Deepavali (Mahavira Moksha) Festival for Jains
In Jainism, Diwali marks the attainment of moksha or nirvana by Mahavira in 527 BC. Mahavira is responsible for establishing the Dharma followed by Jains even today. According to tradition, the chief disciple of Mahavira, Ganadhara Gautam Swami also attained complete knowledge (Kevalgyana) on this day, thus making Diwali one of the most important Jain festivals.
Diwali (Ashok Vijayadashami) for Buddhists
While not a large occasion in some sections of Buddhism including Newar Buddhists celebrate Diwali through the chanting of mantras and remembering Emperor Ashoka who converted to Buddhism on this day, and therefore Buddhists also know the festival as Ashok Vijayadashami.
The Chakra News team wishes everyone a Shubh Deepavali and may the future be full of prosperity, good health and wealth (in whichever form you define wealth). Jai Shri Ram. Om Jai Lakshmi Mata.