Diwali is the colloquial form of the term ‘Deepavali’ that means enlightening. It is one of the biggest festivals of India and of the Indian people all over the world. Though it is mainly a Hindu festival, all the religions share its charm in their own ways. In the matter of celebration, there no discrimination is found in this day. That is why; it is believed that this festival brings the national integrity into the surface in this day.
The Pulse of The Celebration
The forms of celebration are different in the different parts of India but there is no lacking in enjoyments and happiness at this festival. Diwali is celebrated by Diya and lighting, home decoration, shopping, fireworks, puja (prayers), gifts, feast and by giving sweets to their loved ones. To celebrate, houses are decorated with candles and colorful lights and huge firework displays are held while families feast and share gifts.
In most parts of India, Diwali is celebrated for five days.
• First Day, Dhanteras: Worshipping of Lord Yama and buying of metal objects
• Second Day, Choti Diwali, Roop Chaturdashi, Narak Chaturdasi
• Third Day, Diwali: Laxmi and Ganesh Pujan is done on this day.
• Fourth Day: On this day, Govardhan Puja is performed.
• Fifth Day: Also known as Bhai Dooj or Bhai Tika, the day is dedicated to brothers and sisters. On this day sisters pray for their brothers’ long life.
Celebration in India
Different provinces of India celebrate this occasion according to their beliefs. But the nature of the celebration is all most same in each place.
- In the northern part of India, the cities like Delhi, Agra, Allahabad, celebrate the occasion as the return of Sri Ramachandra to Ayodhya and celebrates the day likewise with the immense usage of firecrackers.
- The cities of Western India, especially Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Vadodara, Surat celebrate this festival as the time to worship goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth.
- The eastern part of India, especially Kolkata, Guwahati worship goddess Kali, the incarnation of Goddess Durga. It is believed there that on this day goddess Kali destroyed the ‘Asuras’ (demons) to save the earth from their torture.
- The cities of the southern part of India, like Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad etc. celebrate the day as the occasion of light and the removal of darkness.
In this festival, almost the entire country flows in the flood of festive mood for this one day as per the capacity, irrespective of their economic conditions. Even the religions other than pure Hindus, like Jains and Buddhists, also celebrate the occasion in their own ways.
Celebration Around The World
This festival has surpassed the boundary of the geographical border in India and celebrated among the Hindus all over the world. For this day, they decorate their house with different lights and lamps and flare the night’s sky with colorful firecrackers.
The countries, where the Hindu population is high, they celebrate this occasion with immense grandeur.
The Indians are the second largest ethnic minority in Britain. To get rid of the feeling of missing their homeland, especially during festival times, the Indians here celebrate most of the festivals. In Britain, as in India, the Diwali festival is a time for thoroughly spring-cleaning the home and for wearing new clothes and most importantly, decorating buildings with fancy lights. The British city of Leicester is noted for its Diwali Festival celebrations.
Known as Deepavali, the day is a public holiday in Singapore. The streets are transformed by colorful flowers, buntings and lights. Storefronts are decorated in hues of red and gold and the wafting aroma of flowers and incense fills the air. People are dressed in their fineries as prayers are held to thank the divine.
Mauritius has a large number of Hindus who along with non-Hindus celebrate the joyous festival of Diwali. The festivities span almost a week and Diwali day is a declared public holiday on this multi-cultural island. Celebrations are about family, friends, feasting, and fun. Fireworks add to the spirit of it all!
While Islam is the official religion of Malaysia, it is a very multi-religious society and Diwali is a public holiday here. Like Singapore, the Little India area in the capital city Kuala Lumpur is where all the celebrations are at the outside of the homes of Hindus. Friends and family get together to pray and offer gratitude for the blessing of the year past and the year to come. In celebration of Diwali, many Indian restaurants in Kuala Lumpur offer special menus featuring traditional Indian snacks and sweets. Enjoy!
Asians rank amongst one of the largest immigrant groups in USA of which, Indians are a substantial number. Most cities have a sizeable Indian community and Diwali is a holiday celebrated with much enthusiasm. Be it in New Jersey, Illinois, Texas or California, temples across cities usually host a Diwali night that sees priests performing customary prayers followed by a vegetarian communal dinner. Bigger cities also hold a Diwali parade in some parts! Like elsewhere in the world, friends and family visit each other’s homes and exchange gifts as part of the Diwali celebrations.
All these countries celebrate this occasion as grand as India does, especially in Singapore and Mauritius. In Singapore, it is declared as a National holiday. Mauritius and Malaysia also celebrate this festival in remarkably grand manners.
The Cultures Associated to This Celebration
As a popular and ancient festival, usually, people exchange gifts within the family and friends. They celebrate the festival either with the worship of the goddess or with the celebration with the firecrackers and eating together with the friends. However, the concept of the occasion is more or less the same in each province and each country.
The Associated Cultures and Practices with this Occasion are:
‘Dhanteras’ or ‘Dhana Trayadasi’ marks the beginning of the festival of Diwali. It takes places two days before the new moon. It is believed that this day is auspicious to buy property. It is actually, the occasion to show respect and welcomes to goddess Laxmi in the house.
Rangoli is referred to the colorful decorations with designs. It is believed that it brings good luck to the house. Therefore, people make this color decoration in the doorsteps of the houses to welcome good luck to the home.
It is the festival to celebrate the triumph of light over the darkness because this festival takes place in the new moon only. The most common attraction of this occasion is the different types of firecrackers and the lightings in each house. There is a difference in the usage of lamps also. Previously, only earthen lamps were used for lighting purposes. Nowadays, there are multiple types of electric laps and small bulbs of different colors. This lighting makes the cities radiant and colorful ones for the day. The lighting becomes extraordinarily bright in the backdrop of the dark new moon night. The firecrackers take over both the land and the sky for the day. In the dark sky, they dazzle with different colors and shapes and disappear in the air after some time. The sky in this night becomes a universal stage for a firecrackers show.
Celebrate Safe and Happy Diwali:
Diwali is an important festival for the people of the Hindu religion. Everyone waits for this festival with eager in order to get lots of fun and pleasure while lighting candles and clay diyas in the night. We should be conscious of celebrating this festival without any harm to the public as well as the environment. We should know that the crackers we burn on Diwali are very disadvantageous to the health of people and the environment. High pitch sound making crackers are enough to disturb the human mind and balance of the atmosphere. Some fire-rockets go very high in the sky which creates the fear of fire if used in the residential colonies.
So, we should celebrate safe and happy Diwali without crackers and other harmful materials in order to keep ourselves healthy and natural cycle in balance. It is the festival of lights and cleanliness, not the festival of firecrackers. It is the festival to worship Goddess Laxmi, not the festival to make anyone sorrow through the fire-rockets.