It’s a time for people to gather with their families, and decorate their house to celebrate the victory of good over evil.
Diwali also marks a new beginning through the arrival of a new moon.
But what is Diwali and how do people celebrate it?
When is Diwali?
Diwali is a five -day event beginning on Tuesday, 2 November 2021 with Dhanteras but the main day is on Thursday 4 November 2021.
The five day festival of lights begin from early November:
- 2 November 2021: Dhanteras
- 3 November 2021: Naraka Chaturdashi, also known as Choti Diwali
- 4 November 2021: Diwali
- 5 November 2021: Govardhan Puja, also known as Gudi Padwa
- 6 November 2021: Bhai Dooj
Diwali takes place on the darkest night on the Hindu lunar calendar, during the month Kartika, which falls in between mid October - November in the Gregorian calendar. This festival also marks the last harvest before winter.
What is Diwali?
Diwali is known as the festival of lights and symbolises a spiritual triumph of good over evil, and light over darkness.
It is a five day festival and commences after the end of harvest to coincide with the new moon. Although it is five days long, the height of the festival is celebrated on the third day, which will be 4 November 2021. This coincides with the darkest day of the lunar month.
Diwali originates from the Sanskrit word ‘deepavali’, meaning ‘rows of lights’, reinforcing the spiritual aspect of this festival by lighting oil lamps, called diyas.
As this festival is so widely celebrated by billions of people around the world, it has no single origin story, but a running theme sees deities winning a battle against evil.
What is the story and why do we celebrate Diwali?
In Hinduism, Diwali is widely associated with Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity who is said to bring good fortune.
Other Hindus believe in the epic of Ramayana, where on the day of Diwali, deities Rama, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman reached Ayodhya, a holy city in India, after 14 years in exile.
In Sikhism, Diwali celebrates the date of the release of the sixth Guru Hargobind Singh from prison in 1619.
Jains celebrate this date to commemorate when their founder, Lord Mahavira, reached a state of eternal bliss, which they call Moksha.
Although Diwali is not celebrated by a majority of Buddhists, Newar Buddhists use this day to also offer prayers to the Goddess Lakshmi.
How is Diwali celebrated?
Diwali is prepared for in advance, with many people cleaning and decorating their houses in the lead-up to the festival.
Diwali is celebrated with joy, an abundance of sweets, and for some, fireworks with string lights dangling from their houses. Many towns celebrate together with neighbours throwing huge parties and celebrations.
Traditional celebrations include lighting diyas throughout workplaces and homes, as these oil lights act as a guidance for Goddess Lakshmi to find her way home. Some devotees leave their doors and windows open to invite Lakshmi to visit their homes.
The lights also act as a spiritual reminder that inner light can protect households from spiritual darkness.
Each day of Diwali holds its own significance, with the first day seeing people pray to Lakshmi, bake sweets and clean their homes to adorn in lights and flowers.
On the third day, people go to Temples to pray and honour Lakshmi, later gathering with their loved ones for celebrations and to light the lamps created on the first day.
For many people, the fourth day is a new year, where it becomes a chance to honour their siblings and exchange gifts and wishes.
How to wish someone a happy Diwali
Some Hindus, Sikhs and Jains will send Diwali greeting cards during the festive season, and may include a gift of Indian sweets to mark the occasion.
Saying “happy Diwali” is a simple and easy way to let someone know you’re thinking of them, and something you can say to anyone who is celebrating Diwali.
You can also say “Diwali ki Shubhkamnaye” (pronounced: Dee-vaa-lee kee Shub-kaam-nigh) or “Shubh Deepavali” (pronounced: Shub deepaavalee) to wish someone a happy Diwali in Hindi.
In Marathi, happy Diwali is “Shubh Diwali” (pronounced: Shub Dee-vaa-lee)
In Punjabi the message is “Tuhanu Diwali diyan bohat both vadhaiyan”, and Tamil it is “Deepavali Nalvazhthukkal”.
However, a simple “happy Diwali” is always appreciated.
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