The festival of lights, Diwali or Deepavali, is one of the biggest festivals among the Hindu community of India. It is celebrated with great fervor and zeal, by lighting diyas, burning firecrackers, and decorating the house with rangoli.
This year, Diwali will be observed on November, 12, falling on Sunday this year. It is observed twenty days after the festival of Dussehra. Before you step into this festive season, let’s have a look at its history and significance.
Diwali 2023 Date & Shubh Muhurata
Amavasya Date Begins: November 12, 2023 from 02:44 PM.
Amavasya Date Ends: November 13, 2023 at 02:56 AM.
Lakshmi Pujan Muhurat on November 12: 5:40 PM to 7:36 PM
The Diwali celebration is a fusion of harvest seasons in India. It is recognized in the Padma Purana and the Skanda Purana, the two Sanskrit texts, which were finished in the second half of the first millennium CE.
The diyas (lights) are referred to in Skanda Kishore Purana as representing parts of the sun, portraying it as the enormous supplier of light and energy to all life and which occasionally changes in the Hindu month of Kartik.
Ruler Harsha called Deepavali, in the Sanskrit play ‘Nagananda’, as ‘Dīpapratipadotsava’ (Dipa = light, Pratipada = first day, Utsava= celebration), where lights were lit, and newly married couples got gifts. Deepavali was called ‘Dipamalika’ by Rajashekhara, in his ‘Kavyamimamsa’, wherein he spoke about the practice of homes being whitewashed and oil lamps lit at homes, roads, and markets in the night.
Diwali was likewise depicted from people from outside India as well. The Persian explorer, Al Bruni’s journal on India, composed of Deepavali being celebrated by Hindus upon the arrival of the New Moon in the period of Kartika.
The Venetian vendor and voyager, Niccolò de’ Conti, visited India in the mid-15th century and wrote in his diary and described the festival, and how the families would sing, dance and feast.
Domingo Paes, the Portuguese explorer of the 16th-century, composed of his visit to the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire, where Dipavali was commended in October with people enlightening their homes, and temples, with lamps.
Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire period Islamic historians additionally referred to Diwali and other Hindu celebrations. The Mughal head Akbar, invited and took an interest in the festivities, though others restricted such celebrations as Diwali and Holi, as Aurangzeb did in 1665.
The British time likewise spoke about Diwali, for example, the note on Hindu celebrations journal in 1799 by Sir William Jones, a philologist, known for his initial perceptions on Sanskrit and Indo-European languages.
Diwali or Deepawali Significance
Diwali festival rituals share a certain significance and a story. It marks the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil. The lights of Diwali mark the destruction of all our dark wishes and desires, the dark shadows, and evils, and give us the strength to carry on with our goodwill for the next year.
Diwali brings together the people in solidarity with different religions and castes. It is only when people wish each other joy and laughter. The festival is celebrated with friendship and a sense of purity.
Homes are lit with diyas, lights, and firecrackers that are used as respect to the gods for gaining knowledge, wealth, peace, health, and prosperity. It is also said that the firecracker sounds to mark joy among the people on earth. However, with environmental issues, people are refraining from their use and finding better ways to celebrate the day.
Different Tales Related To Diwali
The most prominent story behind Diwali is Lord Ram’s return to Ayodhya after his 14 years of exile, defeating the demon Ravana. During this exile, Ravana had abducted Sita. After a long time, Lord Rama finally defeated Ravana and rescued Sita. To cheer up for his victory, and his return, the people of Ayodhya lit the kingdom with diyas, distributed sweets, and set off firecrackers.
In West Bengal, the festival is celebrated to worship Maa Kali, the goddess of strength. It is said that Goddess Kali came into this world to save the earth from the demons. After killing the demons, Goddess Kali lost control and started killing everyone who came her way. Lord Shiva, intervened to stop her from killing people. This was the time when she stepped on Lord Shiva with her red tongue out and stopped her violent activity in fear and guilt.
On Diwali, people worship Goddess Lakshmi, and she is considered a goddess of prosperity and wealth. The day is marked as her birthday which was the New Moon day in the month of Kartik. Looking at the beauty of Lakshmi, Lord Vishnu married her and, to mark this, the diyas were lit in a row. From that day onwards, people worship Goddess Durga on Diwali and seek her blessings.
How Is Diwali Celebrated?
Mostly a Hindu celebration, different religions including Jains, Sikhs, and a few Buddhists likewise observe Diwali. On the first day of festivities, called Dhanteras, Hindus clean their homes. Diyas or earthen lights loaded up with oil are lit for the following five days and homes are decorated with lights and lamps.
Many consider the day promising to buy new things, from vehicles to hardware. Adornments, particularly gold to worship Goddess Lakshmi, are frequently purchased, with jewelry shops in India gaining huge profits.
Entryways and passages to workplaces are likewise decorated with rangolis, beautiful plants, hued rice, or sand, intended to bring good luck. On the next day, called “Choti Diwali” or “little Diwali”, an assortment of Indian desserts are made at home or purchased and afterward gifted alongside presents to loved ones.
The third day of Diwali regularly called the “main Diwali”, is the point at which those celebrating wear new garments or their best outfits and light firecrackers. The fourth day is generally formal, with numerous festivals clashing with the finish of the harvest season.
The last day of the celebration is considered Bhai Dooj or Siblings’ Day and imprints the connection between sisters and brothers. Like Raksha Bandhan, where sisters tie Rakhi around their brothers’ wrists to ward off evil, during Bhai Dooj, brothers usually travel to meet their sisters and their families. On this day, sisters feed their brothers with their hands and get gifts.