Diwali Celebrations

Diwali is the time to rejoice and have loads of fun with family and loved ones. Spread the Diwali spirit among your dear ones by sending them your warm Diwali wishes.

Diwali or Deepavali is one of the biggest festivals celebrated with mirth and excitement by the Hindus. It is popular among Sikhs and Jains as well. It commemorates the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil. Read further to know about Deepavali celebrations.

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Diwali Celebrations for 5 Days in India

The festival of lights is observed for a period of 5 days, starting from Dhanteras and ending with Bhai Dooj. Here’s how Diwali is enjoyed by one and all.

Day1 Dhanteras:

The Dhanteras is considered as an auspicious occasion when the Hindus worship Lakshmi,

Dhanteras Gifts

the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. They start a new accounting year for their businesses on this special day. This is when people buy jewelry and items made of precious metals like gold and silver. They also purchase new kitchenware on this special occasion. It is a common belief that buying precious metals will actually bring good luck and prosperity to one and all.

On Dhanteras, houses and business offices are renovated to give them a bright and festive look. People indulge in Diwali decorations with rangolis, torans, diyas, and other items. Lamps are lit all throughout the night in order to show respect to Yama, the God of death.

Diwali Rangoli

According to an ancient story, Yama wanted to take the life of King Hima’s son who was destined to die by snakebite. However, Hima’s wife saved his life from Yama. She actually didn’t allow Hima to sleep all night and blocked the entrance to his room by piling up a heap of silver and gold ornaments. She even lit lamps all around the room such that the bright lights and the dazzle of the ornaments prevented Yama (who came in disguise of a serpent) from entering the room. In remembrance of this story, people pay their homage to Yama on Dhanteras which is also known as Yamadeepdaan.

On Dhanteras, people also celebrate the birth anniversary of Dhanvantari (the physician of the Gods). Dhanvantari was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who was born during the churning of ocean by demons and gods.

Celebration of Diwali

Day 2 Chhoti Diwali :

The 2nd day of Diwali celebrations is known as Choti Diwali. This festive occasion is observed as the day when Lord Krishna had slain the demon Narakasura who had established supremacy over the earth and heaven. Krishna beheaded the demon with his Sudarshan Chakra. To commemorate this victory, Choti Diwali is celebrated as a sign of the triumph of goodness over evil.

On Choti Diwali, people worship Lord Rama and Goddess Lakshmi. They take a fragrant oil bath and put on new clothes on this special occasion. The women decorate their homes with rangolis and offer special food to the deities before they start their worship.

In South India, people wake up before dawn on Choti Diwali and take their bath which they consider to be as holy as purifying themselves in the water of the Ganges, the sacred river of the Hindus. The people of South India also break a bitter fruit on this auspicious occasion. They apply a paste of kumkum and oil on their foreheads as a traditional celebration of Choti Diwali.

In Maharashtra, people take a bath in early morning after they’ve applied oil and a paste of gram flour and fragrant powder on their skin. They relish having steamed vermicelli with milk and sugar and puffed rice with curd on this festive occasion

Day 3 Badi Diwali:

This is actually the day for the main Diwali celebrations. On this day, people worship Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha. They clean their houses especially for the pujas, as they believe that Goddess Lakshmi would first visit the house which is clean, tidy, and purified.

On the 3rd day of the festival,people decorate their houses with rows of Diwali diyas, lanterns, and candles in order to create the perfect mood for their celebration. They burst a variety of fireworks with their dear ones on this occasion. They also prepare and send exciting recipes and sweets to their loved ones. People convey their warm wishes to their dear ones and business associates by sending Ecards and exchange gifts as well. Unlike Choti Diwali, the 3rd day of this festival witnesses celebrations on a large scale.

Day 4 Pawda/Govardhan Puja:

This festive occasion is celebrated to commemorate the victory of Lord Krishna over Indra, the God of rain and heaven. Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhan Mountain with his little finger to protect his people and the cattle from flood. So, people perform Govardhan Puja as part of Diwali celebrations on this day.

In North India, the 4th day of Diwali is known as Annakoot (mountain of food). People enjoy cooking a variety of recipes during the night. The food items are then piled up (symbolizing the Govardhan Mountain) and offered to the deities.

In South India, the 4th day of Diwali is observed in order to commemorate the victory of Lord Vishnu over the demon king Bali. People also celebrate the coronation of King Vikramaditya on this occasion.

Day 5 Bhai Dooj:

The 5th day of Diwali festival is observed as Bhai Dooj. This is the day when sisters put an auspicious tilak on their brothers’ foreheads and wish that God protects their siblings from evil forces. Brothers express their appreciation by offering exciting gifts to their sisters. This is followed by a special feast to enjoy the final day of Diwali.

The Bhai Dooj celebrations are based on the legend in which Yama (God of death) enjoyed a feast with his sister who wished for the former’s well-being by putting a tilak on his forehead.

Diwali Celebrations around the World

Below, you will find ideas on how Diwali is celebrated in different countries all over the world.

Celebrations in Britain: Diwali is observed in Britain by worshipping Goddess Lakshmi, bursting fireworks, lighting earthen lamps and candles, and having sweets with near and dear ones. This festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm at Britain’s largest Hindu temple, the Swaminarayan Mandir in London.

In 2009, Prime Minister Brown lit a diya when Vedic mantra was recited at his office in Downing Street. He also spoke to the Hindus and emphasized the fact that Diwali does bring hope and strengthens family ties. He was presented a garland on this special occasion. The Prime Minister was also offered a model of the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir (the Neasden Temple).

Lakshmi Puja held in Britain during Diwali includes all the rituals that are followed during the puja in India. These include the recitation of Vedic hymns and showering of flowers and rice grains. There’s also a fireworks display where thousands of explosions are created. Amid these celebrations, the devotees are encouraged to donate blood and offer food and money to the poor.

Festivities in U.S:

Diwali is celebrated by the White House every year since 2003. However, President Barack Obama first attended the celebrations in 2009. He issued a video message through which he conveyed his warm wishes on this occasion. The President spoke about the significance of this festive event and recited the Sanskrit mantra - Asato Ma Sad Gamaya, translated in English. Even the U.S. Senate issued a resolution recognizing the significance of the festival in 2007. There are states like Utah which have declared Diwali as one of their state festivals.

The celebrations in U.S. are all about lighting candles and sparklers, displaying fireworks, and savoring Indian sweets. Wearing new dresses is an important part of the festival. Women and girls celebrate this joyous occasion by getting dressed in silk outfits and clothes made of rich fabric. They wear their finest jewelry and have various designs created on their palms with mehendi. This reflects their joyous and festive mood on this occasion.

Celebrations in Canada: Since 1998, the festival of lights has been celebrated by the Parliament of Canada. In 2009, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other leaders lit traditional lamps in the presence of dignitaries who were shown how this festival is observed in various cities of India. This was followed by a dinner comprising traditional Indian food.

Celebrations in Malaysia: In Malaysia, the festival of lights is known as Hari Diwali. The people here observe this festive occasion as the victory of goodness over evil. They follow the South Indian tradition of taking an oil bath before they visit temples and offer their prayers. The Malaysians light small clay lamps filled with coconut oil as a way of celebrating the triumph of Lord Rama over demon king, Ravana. They adorn their doorways with colorful floral rangolis or “kolams” so as to welcome Goddess Lakshmi into their homes. Other than Sarawak and the Federal Territory of Labuan, all areas of Malaysia celebrate this festival.

Festivities in Nepal: The festival of Diwali is called Tihar in Nepal. The people of Nepal offer their prayers to Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha and observe the festival for a period of 5 days. On the first day, the devotees cook rice to feed the cows believing that Goddess Lakshmi manifests herself in cows. The next day, they feed dogs which are considered to be the Vahana of Bhairava.

The third day of the festival includes the lighting of lamps and display of fireworks. The fourth day is when the devotees pray to Yama, the Hindu God of death. The fifth day is observed as Bhai Dooj when sisters wish for the long life of their brothers and their success and prosperity.

Deepavali celebrations in Sri Lanka: The festivities in Sri Lanka include lighting of oil lamps to seek blessings from Goddess Lakshmi. People use crystal sugar to make figures and enamel to create toys. Crackers are burnt and a large meal is planned as part of the festive celebrations.

Festivities in Indonesia: Hindus comprise only 2% of the total population of Indonesia. However, the festival of lights is celebrated with a lot of gaiety and fun in this part of the world. The Island of Bali in Indonesia is famous for its celebrations on this occasion. The traditions and customs followed on Diwali here are similar to the ones observed in India.

With bright and sparkling celebrations, fireworks, sweets, and rangolis, Diwali brings colors of joy and happiness to one and all. While you celebrate this festival with a lot of fun and excitement, don’t forget to wish your dear ones with festive Diwali cards on this occasion.

Festival Of Lights

Diwali is celebrated by millions of Hindus all over the world, each year on the no moon night of the Hindu month of Ashwayuja (October-November).

It is a five-day bonanza and brilliantly captures the secular nature of India, as not only Hindus but people from other religions too come together to celebrate the festival with their Hindu brothers. The Diwali celebration for this five-day festival are kick started with Narak Chaturdashi, which celebrates the victory of Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama over the evil demon Narak. According to the Puranas, Narak unleashed a reign of terror in the

kingdom of Kamarupa, even resorting to annoying celestial beings. It was then that Lord Krishna was called upon to save the world from this malevolent being. However, Lord Krishna soon realized that Narak was not one to go down easily as he was the benefactor of a boon which declared that he would face death only at the hands of his mother Bhudevi. So Krishna requested his consort Satyabhama, the reincarnation of Bhudevi to be his charioteer for the inevitable battle.When Lord Krishna feigned unconsciousness after being hit by an arrow, Satyabhama took the bow and arrow and killed Narak instantaneously. p> The slaying of Narak signifies that parents ought not to hesitate to punish their children for the greater good of the society. It reminds people to place the good of society before their own personal gains and bonds.

So diverse are the celebrations in different parts of this wonderful country that it is extremely difficult to pin down one specific way of celebrating the festival. However, certain aspects remain similar,like the tradition lighting Diyas and bursting firecrackers. Diwali is the festival of Laxmi, the Goddess of prosperity and wealth. It is believed that Goddess Laxmi visits everyone during Diwali and brings peace and prosperity to all. On the night of Diwali "Lakshmi-Pooja", a traditional Puja is performed after sunset in all the homes. Five pieces of ghee diyas (lamps) are lit in front of the deities, Naivedya of traditional sweets is offered to the Goddess and devotional songs- in praise of Goddess Laxmi are sung.

Diwali Celebrations in North India

In the Northern part of India, Diwali celebrations begin at Dussehra.

It is celebrated in a grand way. Buildings, houses, shops and roads are decorated with electric lights, candles or clay lamps. The most common gifts are silver coins, sweets and dry fruits. Silver dishes and other household items are also given as gifts. In some parts of North India, people indulge in gambling. People enjoy playing with firecrackers.

Diwali Celebrations in South India

In the Southern part of India, Diwali is celebrated in the Tamil month of aipasi (thula month) 'naraka chaturdasi' thithi, before amavasai.

The preparations start the day before with cleaning of oven, smearing it with lime and applying four or five dots of kumkum. Then it is filled with water for the next day’s oil bath. People clean their houses and decorate them with rangoli or kolam patterns with kavi. The pooja room is religiously decorated. Here people visit temple, gift clothes and jewelry, eat sweets and receive blessings of elders.

Diwali Celebrations in East India

In the Eastern part of India Diwali is celebrated with Kali Puja in Bengal. People worship goddess Kali at night with sound of fireworks and crackers. To worship their goddess, people keep awake the whole night.

Indian Diwali celebrations have many customs and rituals that differ from region to region. Though customs of celebrating Diwali vary but the enthusiasm is the same throughout the country. Diwali is enjoyed from Krishna Chaturdashi to Kaartik Shukla Dwiteeya. With the advent of Diwali season, warm days turn into mild cold days. Process and rituals of celebrating Diwali in India may be varied but the theme of its celebration is the same throughout the country.

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