Welcome to another Deepavali!
Also known as the Festival of Lights, Deepavali is celebrated across Southern India and other Southern Asian countries like Singapore and Malaysia. In Northern India, it’s more commonly known as Diwali, and Hindus all over the world celebrate it every year with festivities and Deepavali gifts.
The festival revolves around the forces of light over darkness, and the triumph of good over evil. It’s one of the most important Hindu festivals, and is celebrated each year with colourful floral garlands and breathtaking light displays. It is said that Deepavali is the return of Lord Rama, who is known as the 7th incarnation of the god Vishnu.
An Introduction to Deepavali
Deepavali takes place on the darkest night of the month of Kartik, which is the first night of the new moon. To celebrate the occasion, streets, homes and temples are decorated with lights and flowers. Families light oil lamps called diyas, as they believe that the light from these lamps will guide the spirits of their deceased relatives home to visit. They also set off firecrackers or fireworks to drive off evil spirits and demons.
Deepavali marks the deaths of demons like Narkasur, Bali and Ravana, celebrating the gods that defeated them. People will also pray to the Goddess Lakshmi by performing the auspicious Lakshmi Puja, asking for the goddess to bless them with wealth, health and prosperity. This is done by offering fresh flowers, coconuts and other fruits, to an idol figure of the goddess. Some people even perform rituals to their cash boxes or valuables in the house, to hope for wealth and happiness.
The Five Auspicious Days
Deepavali begins with Dhanteras, and ends on the day of Bhaiya Dooj. Though widely celebrated as a whole, the individual days have different names and have additional meanings in certain regions of India.
This day marks the beginning of the five day festivities! It’s customary for families to clean their houses from top to bottom and discard old, unwanted items. This is to welcome the Goddess Lakshmi to their home. It’s also considered an auspicious day to buy expensive items like cars and electrical appliances. But it is also a day to consider being generous, and giving to charity to those in need.
In Hindu culture and history, Lord Krishna killed the demon Narakasura on the second day. In some Indian regions, this marks the coming end of the year, and it’s customary to ‘clean the slate’. Families will wake up early and put on new clothes, signifying a new beginning. In some parts of Southern India, this day is celebrated as the main day of Deepavali!
The third day is celebrated with the new moon of Kartik. This is the most important day of the festival! It symbolises the end of the year in many regions in India. In Hindu culture, Lord Rama rescued his wife from the demon Ravana, then returned home on this day. Candles and flowers are used to celebrate his triumph, and to guide him back home after the treacherous battle.
This is the first day of the new year in the Vikram Samvat calendar, and it is all about feasts and celebrations. In Hindu traditions, it’s said that Lord Krishna lifted Govardhan Hill to provide shelter from storms to local farmers and villagers, and they thanked him with a bountiful harvest. In modern times today, Hindus celebrate by preparing a feast and bringing it to the temples to give thanks to Lord Krishna.
Bhai Dooj is also known as Bhaubeej, Bhai Tika or Bhai Phonta. It’s a festival celebrated by Hindus on the second lunar day of the new year. It’s the fifth and final day of the festival that celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters.
Sisters perform arti for their brothers, and apply a red tika on his forehead. It symbolises the sister’s heartfelt wishes for their brothers to have a long and happy life ahead. In return, brothers promise to continue carrying out their responsibility of caring and loving for their sisters.
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