What is Diwali and why is it celebrated? Diwali is the Hindu Festival of Lights, it is a five-day festival…

What is Diwali and why is it celebrated?

Diwali is the Hindu Festival of Lights, it is a five-day festival which is celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains around the world.

Diwali is a festival of new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. Hindus celebrate the return of deities Rama and Sita to Ayodhya after their 14-year exile. Sikhs celebrate the release from prison of the sixth guru Hargobind Singh in 1619. The founder of Jainism is Lord Mahavira. During Diwali, Jains celebrate the moment he reached a state called Moksha (Eternal Bliss).

Diwali is a festival which spreads the luminosity across the length of the country, it is celebrated with crackling intensity very year. However, each of the five days of Diwali are of unique significance.

The five days of Diwali are: Dhanteras, Naraka Chaturdasi (Kali Chaudas), Diwali, Goverdhan Pooja (New Year) and Bhai Dooj.

Day 1 – Dhanteras

Goddess Lakshmi Hindu Goddess of Wealth is worshipped on this day, people lamp diyas, clean and decorate their homes.

Diyas with candles
Colourful Rangoli Pattern and Lighted Diyas in someone’s home.

Day 2 – Naraka Chaturdashi also known as Kali Chaudas, or Choti Diwali  

The Hindi literature narrates that the asura (demon) Narakasura was killed on this day by Lord Krishna, Satyabhama and Kali. The day is celebrated by early morning religious rituals, and fesitvites follow on from this.

Day 3 – Diwali

Fireworks are lit to celebrate the last day of the Hindu year, diyas are lit. Goddess Lakshmi is believed to enter homes and blesses people with good fortune. Families exchange gifts, have nice food, wear new clothes and visit relatives.

Day 4 –  Goverdhan Pooja also known as Annakut Darshan this is the Hindu New Year

Devotees worship Goverdhan Parvat (Religious Mountain). As an offering to Lord Krishna in the festival of Govardhan Pooja, devotees prepare and offer a large variety of vegetarian food to Lord Krishna as a mark of gratitude.

Day 5 – Bhai Dooj

It is a day of love between siblings. Siblings offer gifts to each other and have a big feat on this day to show respect, love and protection for each other. Traditionally, brothers visit their sisters.

How is Diwali celebrated?

The word Diwali comes from the Sanskrit word Deepavali meaning ‘row of lighted lamps’

During this time houses, shops and public places are decorated with small ghee lamps called diyas and lights. People enjoy fireworks and traditional Indian sweets and savoury snacks too.

In addition to this many other traditions are also followed:

  • People visit relatives and friends and have big feasts.
  • Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth is worshipped as a the bringer of blessings or the Hindu New Year
  • Fireworks and festivities are an essential part of the occasion
  • Many lights and lamps are lit on the streets and in houses.
  • Rangoli is also created on the floor, outside and inside houses, using materials such as coloured sand, dry rice flour, flower petals and coloured rocks.

Diwali is celebrated during the Hindu lunisolar month Kartik which varies between mid-October and mid-November every year. This year Diwali is celebrated on Monday 24 October 2022.

Diwali is celebrated across the globe, however, the big Diwali celebrations that take place in the UK are on the Golden Mile in Leicester and in Trafalgar Square in London.

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