What Is Diwali
Diwali comes from the Sanskrit or Deepavali which means row of lamps. It is the biggest and brightest festival celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs across the world. It is a 5-day celebration, each day having it’s own significance:
- Day 1: Dhanteras – This marks the start of the financial year.
- Day 2: Naraka Chaturdasi – Celebrating the vanquishing of Naraka.
- Day 3: Amavasyawhen – A day devotees worship Laxmi maa.
- Day 4: Kartika Shudola Padyani: Start of the Hindu New Year, celebrating Bali’s acquisition of his new kingdom.
- Day 5: Yama Dvutyaor Bhaiya Dooj: A day when brothers are celebrated.
The most popular version of the story of Diwali is from the Ramayana. According to this, Ram, and his wife, Sita were banished to the forest in exile by the king for 14 years. After many years, Ravana, a ten-headed-demon, kidnapped Sita and took her away to his island of Lanka. With the help of Hanuman, the monkey god, Ram and his brother, Laxmana, rescued Sita and they were reunited. The people of their village, Ayodhya, lit oil lamps to guide Ram and Sita back home.Diwali is also celebrated by Sikhs too.
The 6th Guru, Guru Hargobind Sahib, was wrongly imprisoned for his beliefs by Emperor Shah Jahan. The Guru stood up for what he believed in and refused to leave the prison where he was held until the other kings and princes that were unjustly imprisoned were released too. It was near Diwali they were all released and therefore made the occasion and even more joyous event and expressed another triumph of good over evil.In Jainism, they remember Lord Mahavira as this was the day he attained Moksha (nirvana). Many Gods were said to be present illuminating the darkness during this time.
During Diwali, homes are given a clean and oil lamps and candles are lit to help guide Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, into their homes to bring good fortune. Gifts and sweets are shared with family and friends and fireworks are set off (this is also said to ward off evil spirits).
More than 900-1000 million people celebrate Diwali in various way.
- More than 900-1000 million people celebrate Diwali in various way.
- It is a national holiday in India, Trinidad & Tobago, Myanmar, Nepal, Mauritius, Guyana, Singapore, Surinam, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Fiji. It is optional in Pakistan.
- Businesses also start new accounting books and farmers end the harvest season. The festival also signals the onset of Winter.
- Leicester (UK) hosts the biggest celebrations outside of India.
- Gambling is encouraged during Diwali as way of ensuring luck for the coming year and remembrance of games played by Shiva and Parvati on Mount Kalisa or between Radha and Krishna.
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