Guide to Diwali - The Indian festival of lights

If you are in India right now then you are going to see the best fireworks you have ever seen. Every single household in India will be lighting clay lamps and cracking fireworks. Here’s a brief guide to the festival of Diwali.

Diwali (also known as Deepavali) as it is known to the world is the Hindu festival of lights. It is a five day festival but the most important is the day when fireworks are displayed. Generally, it falls between mid October to early November every year. The 2014 Diwali falls on the Thursday 23rd of October. The date is dictated by the Indian lunar calendar. Many a times it coincides with Guy Fawkes Night (5th of November) of Great Britain.

Diwali is supposed to be the celebration of the victory of good over evil. Followers of all principal Indian religions Namely Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism will celebrate Diwali. Sikhs and Jains celebrate Diwali for separate reasons. It is thought that Mahavira the “founder” or the last Jain Tirthankar of the Jain religion attained Mokhsha on Diwali while the Sikhs celebrate because the sixth guru called Guru Hargobind freed himself and other Hindu rulers on this day in October 1619 from the Muslim Mughal ruler Emperor Jahangir.

Hindus consider this the day Lord Ram came back to his kingdom of Ayodhya after spending 14 years in exile. It is also the day when “Lakshmi”, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity is worshipped. Not many people know this but this was the night when Lakshmi choose Vishnu as her husband. Diwali is also the beginning of the new year in the Hindu calender.

The way Indians celebrate Diwali is by lighting row of lights all around the house. The lights typically are of clay lamps with oil as fuel but nowadays electric light and candles are used. Special prayers will be done to please “Lakshmi”. It is thought that “Lakshmi” would find her way to a house using these lights.

We eat sweets, buy new clothes and utensils, worship Lakshmi and give presents to friends and family and of course crack the fireworks.

Ask your hotel the best place to see Diwali lights. But the best way to get to know about Diwali would be to spend time with an Indian family. If you can’t, then you can always wonder around the local markets and see what’s going on.

Happy Diwali

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