Festivals of India, November 12th, 2023
illustration by Manish

Deepavali, commonly known as Diwali, is one of the most widely celebrated festivals in India and among Hindus worldwide. The festival signifies the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil. Diwali is a five-day festival, with the main day of celebration falling on the third day.

Here’s an overview of the Diwali festival:

  • Day 1 – Dhanteras: As mentioned earlier, Diwali festivities kick off with Dhanteras, a day dedicated to the worship of Lord Dhanvantari and the purchase of gold, silver, and other valuable items.
  • Day 2 – Naraka Chaturdashi (Choti Diwali): The second day of Diwali is known as Naraka Chaturdashi or Choti Diwali. It commemorates the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon Narakasura. People clean and decorate their homes, and in the evening, they light lamps and burst firecrackers.
  • Day 3 – Diwali: The main day of Diwali is marked by the worship of Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Homes are decorated with colorful rangoli, and oil lamps or diyas are lit to welcome the goddess. Fireworks are a significant part of the celebration, symbolizing the victory of light over darkness.
  • Day 4 – Govardhan Puja (Annakut): The fourth day of Diwali is dedicated to Lord Krishna and is celebrated as Govardhan Puja or Annakut. It commemorates the lifting of the Govardhan Hill by Lord Krishna to protect the people of Vrindavan from the wrath of Lord Indra.
  • Day 5 – Bhai Dooj: The last day of the Diwali festival is Bhai Dooj, a day dedicated to the bond between brothers and sisters. Sisters pray for the well-being of their brothers, and brothers give gifts in return.

Key elements and customs of Diwali include:

  • Diya and Rangoli: Lighting oil lamps or diyas and creating intricate rangoli designs are integral to Diwali decorations. The diyas symbolize the victory of light over darkness.
  • Puja and Worship: People perform Lakshmi Puja on the main day of Diwali, seeking blessings for wealth and prosperity. Many also worship other deities depending on regional customs.
  • Sweets and Gifts: Exchanging sweets and gifts is a common practice during Diwali. It symbolizes the sharing of joy and prosperity with loved ones.
  • Fireworks: Fireworks are a traditional part of Diwali celebrations, representing the victory of good over evil and the dispelling of darkness.

Diwali is not only a religious festival but also a time for families to come together, share meals, exchange gifts, and celebrate the positive aspects of life. The festival is celebrated with enthusiasm and joy by people of various communities and backgrounds, making it a truly inclusive and vibrant cultural celebration.

Manish Pushkar Jha
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