Diwali is the biggest Hindu festival in India that is celebrated by many other communities too apart from the Hindus, such as Jains and Sikhs. Also known as the “festival of lights,” this sparkling festival unites the whole of India. Diwali celebrations involve great excitement and grandeur, and the festival symbolises the victory of good over evil. When translated from Sanskrit, Diwali means a row of lights. Dipawali is made of ‘deepa,’ which means clay lamps and ‘vali’ means row. These lamps are meant to represent the inner spiritual light that protects us from the darkness.
The History of Diwali
There are different legends about the origin of this festival that can be traced back to ancient India. According to the ‘Ramayana,’ the great Hindu epic, Diwali is celebrated as the homecoming of Lord Rama, after he completed fourteen years in exile. Lord Rama returned to his capital Ayodhya after defeating and killing Ravana, the evil king of Lanka. He returned on a no-moon day and his homecoming was celebrated with the bursting of crackers and lighting of lamps. It is also believed that on this day goddess Lakshmi married Lord Vishnu and is thus a day for celebration. Many others believe it to be the birthday of Lakshmi. However, the most widespread belief is the one associated with the Lord Rama’s return from exile.
Diwali in different regions and religions
Diwali is a festival that holds significance in different regions, cultures and religions. Apart from Hinduism, it holds importance in Sikhism, Jainism, and Buddhism too. In Northern India, Diwali celebrates King Rama's return to Ayodhya while in Southern India it is the day when Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura. Whatever the region or religion, the festival marks the victory of good over evil. Hindus celebrate the homecoming of Lord Rama on Diwali. The Buddhists mark Diwali as the day when Emperor Ashoka converted to Buddhism while the Jains believe it to be the day when Mahavira attained Nirvana. Thus, in Jainism, Diwali marks the liberation of Mahavira’s soul. The Sikhs celebrate the homecoming of their Guru Har Gobind Ji along with numerous Hindu gurus from the prison of Emperor Jahangir. While it may be celebrated for different reasons, Diwali is one festival which unites the entire country.
The Celebrations of Diwali
Hindus celebrate Diwali for five days and each day holds a lot of significance. According to Hindu mythology, Dhanteras is the first day of Diwali and it marks the beginning of the new financial year for Hindus. Chhoti Diwali, the next day is remembered as the day Lord Krishna gained victory over king Naraka. The third day is the primary day of Diwali when Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped. Govardhan Puja is held on the fourth day to celebrate the victory of Lord Vishnu over king Bali as well as the conquest of Lord Krishna over God Indra. Bhai Dooj is the fifth day of Diwali that celebrates the love of brothers and sisters.
There are some parts of India, where Lord Ganesha is worshipped on the day of Diwali. In West Bengal, goddess Kali is worshipped on Diwali. No matter how and what reasons Diwali is celebrated for, one thing is common. All homes are decorated with lights and flowers and colourful rangolis. This is followed by Lakshmi pooja in the evening, lighting of lamps, family get-togethers and bursting firecrackers. People clean and decorate their homes to welcome Goddess Lakshmi for she is the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Playing cards on the Diwali night is also a popular tradition especially in metropolitan cities like Delhi and Mumbai.
Have a Glimpse of Diwali Celebrations in Some Indian Cities
Diwali is a colourful and joyful celebration that is enjoyed in every state and city of India. However, there are some cities where Diwali is celebrated with extraordinary exuberance. Cities like New Delhi, Varanasi, Jaipur, Chennai are especially famous for their grand celebrations on Diwali.
See here : Diwali Long Weekend Plan
This magnificent city looks exquisitely royal on Diwali. When the streets, homes and market are lit with sparkling lights, the pink city looks even more beautiful. The dark blue sky comes alive with the blinding fireworks, while the city below gets drenched in a shimmering kaleidoscope of colours.
Attractions near Jaipur :Sound and light show at Amber Fort
Diwali in Varanasi is an elaborate affair. Hundreds and thousands of people gather near the river in the evening to witness the special Ganga Aarti. Thousands of diyas float on the river as the priests’ chant prayers, singing the praises of Goddess Ganga and Lakshmi, asking for their blessing. The surreal experience on the Varanasi Ghats is indeed one of the best Diwali experiences you can have!
• New Delhi
The aura of New Delhi gets even more special during Diwali. There is a festive feel in the air as the city markets, streets and buildings are decorated with countless twinkling lights. Moreover, the weather is slightly chilly and just perfect for the celebrations. The hustle-bustle of the city during Diwali is unique and the excitement is contagious.
This diwali take a hop-on hop-off bus tour in New Delhi to experience beauty of this amazing city.
In Chennai, Diwali celebrations begin early with a traditional oil bath and elaborate puja. Family members get together and enjoy the celebrations that go on for the whole day. They burst crackers the entire day, and the celebrations go on till late at night.
Diwali is a time of joy and togetherness. Families come together, and the festival is celebrated with great merry-making not just throughout the country, but across the world in many countries.