What is Diwali?
Diwali, or Deepavali, is one of the biggest Indian festivals and also a
major occassion in Nepal. The festival has great religious significance
for Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and the Nepalese. In India, Diwali is now
considered to be more of a national festival, and is enjoyed by most
Indians regardless of faith. It is commonly celebrated by decorating
homes with lamps and candles, bursting of firecrackers and sparklers,
eating sweets and other mouthwatering dishes, praying to Gods and
Goddesses, observing religious rituals, wearing new dresses and sending
wishes and gifts to one another.
When is Diwali?
Though the number of days of the celebration of the festival differ with
different communities, the actual days of observance of Diwali are
common and fall on exactly the same set of days across Nepal and India.
Going by the Gregorian calendar, Diwali in India is observed generally
in the months of October or November. The festival comes exactly twenty
days after Dussehra, another sacred Hindu occassion, and is celebrated
for five consecutive days at the end of Hindu month of Ashvin. Diwali is on 5th November, 2010 and 26th October, 2011.
What does Diwali mean?
The word "Divali/Diwali" is a variation of the Sanskrit word "Deepavali"
which means "a continuous line of lamps" (The word 'Deep' means
"light", and 'avali' means "a continuous line"). Thus, Diwali is the
time to celebrate with lights.
Hindus and Sikhs alike regard it as a celebration of life and use the
occasion to strengthen family and social relationships. One of the most
important Hindu festivals, Diwali marks the beginning of a new year in
some Hindu calendars. For Hindus, the festival is not only the time to
make merry but also the time to worship divine beings considered sacred
in Hinduism like Lord Ganesha, Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Mahabali. It is
also a significant festival for the Sikh faith. For Jains, it is an
occasion to remember Lord Mahavira. In Nepal, Diwali is celebrated by
many Buddhists as Tihar or Swanti.
Why is Diwali called the "Festival of Lights"?
Diwali is known as the "Festival of Lights". This is probably because of
the manner in which it is observed. The festival is traditionally
celebrated with activities like bursting crackers, lighting rows of
candles and diyas (earthen lamps) around individual homes, holding
dazzling fireworks display and igniting colourful sparklers.
What happened during Diwali?
Known as the "Festival of Lights," Diwali commemorates the time when the
Lord Rama returned to his hometown Ayodhya after defeating the evil
demon king of Lanka, Ravana. Lord Rama was the king of Ayodhya who had,
by his father's orders, went away from his country to live in the forest
for fourteen years. But the people of Ayodhya loved their king very much
and waited for years to meet with him again. And so, when news of Lord
Rama's return came to them again, the people of Ayodhya, in the honour
of their king and to celebrate his victory, burst crackers, lit up their
houses with earthen lamps (diyas), and decorated the entire city in the
grandest manner. Year after year this homecoming of Lord Rama is
commemorated on Diwali with lights, fireworks, bursting of crackers and
merriment. The festival gets its name Deepawali, or Diwali, from the
rows (avali) of lamps (deepa) that the people of Ayodhya lit to welcome
Today Diwali is celebrated across the world as the "Festival of Light,"
where the lights or lamps signify victory of good over the evil within
every human being .