Monday, October 24, 2011

Hindu Festivals Part III -Deepavali/Diwali

Image result for happy diwali images
Diwali (also spelled Devali in certain regions) or Deepavali, popularly known as the "festival of lights", is an important festival in Hinduism, celebrated for different reasons, occurring between mid-October and mid-November. For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year and is celebrated in families by performing traditional activities together in their homes. For Jains, Diwali marks the attainment of moksha or nirvana by Mahavira in 527 BC.

Deepavali is an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore,and Fiji.

The name "Diwali" is a contraction of "Deepavali" (Sanskrit: दीपावली Dīpāvalī), which translates into "row of lamps". Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps (diyas or dīpas) in Sanskrit: दीप) filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. During Diwali, celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends.

The festival starts with Dhanteras on which most Indian business communities begin their financial year.

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The second day of the festival, Naraka Chaturdasi, marks the vanquishing of the demon Naraka by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama. 

Amavasya, the third day of Deepawali, marks the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth in her most benevolent mood, fulfilling the wishes of her devotees. Amavasya also tells the story of Lord Vishnu, who in his dwarf incarnation vanquished the Bali, and banished him to Patala.
It is on the fourth day of Deepawali, Kartika Shudda Padyami, that Bali went to patala and took the reins of his new kingdom in there.

The fifth day is referred to as Yama Dvitiya (also called Bhai Dooj), and on this day sisters invite their brothers to their homes.

(Source and for other details:

 Kali Puja celeberated  in West Bengal is corresponding to Diwali celeberations in other parts of the country only with the difference that while Kali is worshipped in West Bengal in other parts of the country Lakshmi is worshipped.
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Diwali Meaning & Significance

Deepavali is a festival where people from all age oups participate.
They give expression to their happiness by lighting earthen 'diyas' (lamps), decorating the houses, bursting firecrackers and inviting near and dear ones to their households for partaking in a sumptuous feast. The lighting of lamps is a way of paying obeisance to god for attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace, valor and fame.

It is one time in the whole year that children volunteer to leave their beds long before the day begins. In fact, the traditional oil bath at 3 a.m, is the only chore that stands between them and the pre-dawn adventures. They emerge, scrubbed clean to get into their festive attire, and light up little oil lamps, candles and scented sticks(agarbathis), the wherewithal for setting alight crackers and sparklers.

On Diwali night, little clay lamps are lit in Hindus homes, but now a days colored electric lamps are also used. What is the significance of lighting a lamp? There is a logical answer to this question. It is through the light that the beauty of this world is revealed or experienced. Most civilizations of the world recognize the importance of light as a gift of God. It has always been a symbol of whatever is positive in our world of experience.

On Diwal Day people wake up at the crack of dawn to conduct the customary pujas. Dressed in brilliant silks and glittering gold jewelry families gather and light crackers to usher in the great evening.

After a session of bursting crackers, its time to visit friends and relatives. Armed with sweets and savories people meet their near and dear ones. Even today, Diwali is such a wonderful festival, a time of giving and sharing, a time to catch up with people, in other words its time to catch up with the little joys that we keep overlooking for the remaining part of the year.

Diwali Greeting with Gifts

Gifts are widely used to greet Diwali to loved ones so much so that Diwali has emerged as the biggest gift giving festival in India. Exchange of gifts on Diwali is considered to be an effective means of strengthening relationship with friends and relatives. Corporate India too, harps on this idea and greets its employees and patrons with a thoughtful Diwali gift to develop harmonious relationship.
In Hindu households it is customary for the elders in the family to pamper loved ones with Diwali gifts. Children usually get a gift of toys, chocolates, clothes or cash from their elders. Sweets, dry fruits, puja thalis and silver gifts are traditional and popular gift of Diwali. Gifts are usually exchanged on the eve of Diwali or Diwali evening when people leave home to wish dear ones ‘A Very Happy Diwali’.
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Traditionally gifts are sent by post or courier to loved ones staying away in far off cities. However, in this jet fast technology advanced age the smart way to send gifts is to send them through a click of the mouse from the comfort of homes! Various online Diwali shopping sites provide people a wide range of gift options to choose from and also the facility to deliver gifts anywhere in the world. No wonder, E-Shopping witnesses a boom on Diwali!

Diwali Greeting Cards

Exchange of Diwali Cards is a wonderful and widely practiced form of greeting Diwali wishes to near and dear ones. Cards on Diwali come in huge variety. Most often Diwali cards come with the image of Goddess Lakshmi and Ganesha.

Cards on Diwali also contain in them greetings for the New Year this is because for Hindus Diwali festival marks the beginning of New Year. These days as more and more people are getting hooked to Internet exchange of Diwali E-Cards has become a norm. Use of Java and Flash has made Diwali e-cards quite attractive and popular.

Source and links for other sites to know more about Diwali: