Diwali Celebrations Across India•
Posted on October 30 2021
Diwali is also known as the festival of lights. People light rows of lamps and make rangolis on Diwali or Deepavali. The word ‘Deepavali’ literally translates to ‘row of lights’. In India, reasons for celebrations vary regionally. Celebrations usually last for about 5 days. It is observed on the 15th day of the Hindu month of Kartika. This month is regarded as the holiest month among Hindus as per the lunar calendar. In 2021, Diwali will be celebrated on November 4, 2021.
Diwali 2021 Date: November 4, 2021
Diwali 2021 Shubh Timings for Puja: November 4, 5:43 PM - 8:18 PM
History of Diwali
Diwali has been mentioned in various texts, plays and manuscripts throughout Indian history. Various foreign travellers also described this festival during their visits to India.
- In a 7th Century Sanskrit play called Nagananda, King Harsha mentions Diwali. The play mentions lamps and exchange of gifts by newlyweds.
- Domingo Paes, a 16th-century Portuguese traveller wrote about his visit to Vijayanagara Empire in October. He witnessed people celebrating Diwali by illuminating their homes and temples with lamps.
- Several notable members of the Mughal Empire and the Delhi Sultanate era also mention Diwali celebrations. There have been accounts of the Mughal emperor Akbar participating in the festivities.
- Persian historian Al-Biruni visited India in the 11th Century. He wrote about Hindus celebrating Diwali in the Kartika month on the day of the new moon.
Mythology and Diwali Legends
- Even though different regions in India have their own beliefs and reasons, the universal message remains the same. Diwali marks the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. It is a way to celebrate our spiritual inner light and goodness.
- According to Hindu mythology, Diwali is celebrated to honour Ramachandra, the seventh avatar/incarnation of the lord Vishnu. Folklore believes that it was on this day when Lord Rama returned home to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. During this exile, he fought a long-lasting battle with the demon king Ravana. Lord Rama defeated Ravana and his demons to free his wife Sita. Sita was kidnapped by Ravana to avenge his sister Shurpanakha’s perceived humiliation at the hands of Laxman, Rama’s brother.
People in South India have another unique story to celebrate this auspicious festival. Diwali commemorates the conquering of the Asura Naraka, a powerful king of Assam. Lord Krishna defeated him to free thousands of prisoners held captive by Asura Naraka. Lord Krishna is another incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Diwali Quick Facts
- Diwali is a national holiday in many countries, not just India. Countries such as Trinidad & Tobago, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Fiji etc have national holidays too. It is also an optional holiday in Pakistan.
- On Diwali, people in Sri Lanka make figures of deities from sugar crystals known as Misiri.
- Sikhs also celebrate Diwali. It marks the release of Guru Hargobind Sahib and 52 other kings and princes of India. They were held as captives by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.
- Jains also celebrate their own festival of lights on the same night as Diwali. This is to mark attainment of Moksha by Lord Mahavira.
- Lights, fireworks and rangolis are used to attract Lakshmi. She is the goddess of wealth and good fortune. People light up their houses with diyas and illuminate the skies with fireworks. Moreover, colourful and vibrant rangolis are drawn outside houses.
Diwali Celebrations Across India
Different states and regions across have their own unique ways to celebrate the festival of lights.
- North Indians decorate their houses with rows of diyas and lights. This is done to celebrate the homecoming of Lord Rama, his wife Sita and his brother Laxman. Diwali celebrations also mark the onset of winters with great enthusiasm.
- Uttar Pradesh witnesses monumental celebrations at the banks of river Ganga in Varanasi. The holy river is full of brightly lit earthen lamps floating across its surface. Priests chant mantras to conduct pujas as well.
In Punjab, both Sikhs and Hindus celebrate this festival. Sikhs celebrate in Gurudwaras and Hindus worship goddess Lakshmi.
- Diwali is also known as Naraka Chaturdashi among South Indians. It is celebrated in the Tamil month of Aipasi.
- In Karnataka, they celebrate two essential days, Ashwija Krishna Chaturdashi and Bali Padyami. People bathe in oil on Ashwija Krishna Chaturdashi. On Bali Padyami, they create forts made from cow dung and narrate the stories of Lord Bali.
- People in Andhra Pradesh pray to Satyabhama, their clay idol. They chant sacred prayers to seek his blessings.
In Tamil Nadu, people wake up at dawn to have oil baths. Their baths also include betel leaves and pepper. The bath is followed with a tonic known as Deepavali Lehiyam and a huge feast.
- People here believe in keeping their doors ajar on the festival of Diwali. This is done to invite the Goddess Lakshmi to their homes.
- People in West Bengal and Assam commemorate Diwali with an overnight ritual called Kali Puja. People worship Goddess Kali and provide her with fish, meat and hibiscus flowers. Kalighat and Dakshineswar temple in Kolkata are famous for their majestic celebrations.
In Odisha, people worship their ancestors in heaven on Diwali. They burn jute sticks to seek blessings and receive luck on this day.
- Western India also witnesses grand celebrations every year to mark Diwali. People buy lanterns, diyas and firecrackers to celebrate in style.
- People in Maharashtra eat Faral , a popular and traditional Diwali dish. The festivities last for 4-5 days. Different traditions take place on each day.
Gujarat celebrates Dhanteras with great pride. They worship lord Dhanvantari. Dhanteras or Dhanatrayodashi, is the first day that marks the festival of Diwali. Hindus purchase a lot of new items on this day, especially utensils and metals like gold or silver. Moreover, lamps are lit and kept burning all night to honour goddess Lakshmi and lord Dhanavtari.