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Diyas(clay lamps) lit up the sky
What is Diwali? And why is it celebrated?
Diwali or Deepawali is a festival of lights. In Hindi, Deepawali means 'rows of burning lamps'. It is a major Hindu festival celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and some. Buddhists.
As per the Hindu epic book, Ramayana, it marks the day of Prince Rama, an avatar of Lord Vishnu, Goddess Sita, Rama's brother Lakshmana and Hanuman's return to Ayodhya after spending 14 years in exile in the forest. It also marks the triumph of good over evil. In order to welcome their Prince, Lord Rama, the people of Ayodhya burn earthen lamps at their homes to show their love and respect to their King.
It is also believed Goddess Lakshmi was born on Diwali during the churning of the cosmic ocean( popularly called Samudra Manthan). So, Goddess Lakshmi is also worshipped on Diwali puja.
When is Diwali celebrated in India ?
Diwali begins on Dhanteras and ends on Bhai Dooj. Every year, Diwali is celebrated in November depending upon the position of the moon. As per the Hindu calendar, Diwali is observed on Amavasya( new moon)--probably the 15th day of the month of Kartik. On this day, Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha are also worshipped. They are termed Lakshmi Ganesh Pujan.
This year Diwali will be celebrated on November 4 all over the country. The Amavasya or new moon falls on November 4, 2021 and ends on 5th Nov 2021
Who decides Diwali date?
Diwali date is determined by the Hindu Lunar Calendar. Like many Indian festivals, the date of Diwali changes every year.
As the Hindu calendar is based on both lunar and solar cycles, the calculations are done accordingly to chalk out the exact time and date of each festival.
What are the preparations done for Diwali?
The markets are flooded with candles, clay lamps(diyas), firecrackers, electric lamps, rangoli colors, decorative items, and people rush to buy them to get the best of things available.
Diwali is the time people thoroughly clean their houses--make them clutter-free, repaint their houses, buy new clothes, jewelry, sweets, gifts, dry fruits, etc. Each house and house member actively participate in the preparations for Diwali.
How is Diwali celebrated?
The festival is celebrated for over five days. Hindu houses perform Lakshmi puja(Goddess of wealth) or Ganesh puja for wealth and prosperity at home. Diwali is also considered for some to be the start of the New Year, so many business owners close their old accounts and start a new one. People perform puja at home, and light diyas in rows to signify the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil. Women and kids make beautiful rangoli patterns with color powder, flowers on the entrance floor. Later firecrackers are burned and sweets are eaten.
People greet each other by saying, "Happy Diwali" or "Naya Saal Mubarak" which means" Happy New Year".This is a time to do charity and provide for the needy. Indians believe no house should go hungry and in darkness during Diwali season, so people actively donate or buy food, lights, or give money to the poor.
The next day after Diwali, people visit their relatives, friends, neighbors and exchange gifts, sweets, well wishes. The final day is celebrated with the family to acknowledge and be grateful for all the blessings God has bestowed on each member of the house.
How will the celebrations take place amid probability of third wave of Covid-19 in India?
People have become cautious after the horrific second wave in April-May this year, so people are not likely to gather in large numbers as seen in the past, but presumably many will find creative ways to celebrate this festival.
Thanks to technology online prayer services are a new norm in India, so devotees will opt for these services. Families are also choosing to go online to celebrate their joy, share their food recipes, organize rangoli competitions, light diyas, etc.
Light dispels Darkness
Diwali is a festival of light, hope, and love. It not only expels darkness, portrays the triumph of good over evil but also gives hope to many that each passing year will bring unity, prosperity, and brotherhood. This year 2021 too, all are hopeful and pray that this Diwali will bring good luck, hope, and burn all evil and protect the world from the deadly pandemic.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Poonam Francis