Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is the biggest festival celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists around the world.
Its date changes every year and commemorates different things depending on local tradition and culture.
When is Diwali?
- As per India’s official holiday calendar, Diwali in 2017 will be on October 19, coinciding with the 15th day of Kartik, the holiest month in the Hindu lunar calendar.
- In southern India and in Singapore, Diwali will be observed on October 18, which is also an official holiday in Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Sindh province in Pakistan.
- In the Gregorian calendar, the Diwali festival always falls between mid-October and mid-November.
What does it commemorate?
- Hindus celebrate the triumph of good over evil – of light over darkness – to mark the return of Ram, the lord of virtue, to his kingdom after 14 years of exile.
- Followers of Jainism commemorate Mahavira, a venerated ascetic who fundamentally reformed the faith, reaching a state of nirvana after his death.
- Sikhs use Diwali to mark the anniversary of the release from prison of Guru Hargobind in 1619.
- For Buddhists, this day represents the time Emperor Ashoka gave up everything and adopted a path of peace after going through bloodshed and death. The day is observed as Ashok Vijayadashami.
How is it celebrated?
- Traditional earthen diyas or candles are lit, and nowadays, fireworks are set off.
- Houses are cleaned and decorated with colourful rangoli artworks – patterns created on the floor using coloured rice or powder.
- Throughout India, and in Indian communities, people wear new clothes, visit friends and family, and exchange sweets and gifts.There is also a strong belief in giving to those in need.
- A special “puja” prayer is dedicated to the goddess Lakshmi in the evening. She is said to bring good luck and prosperity.
|A Hindu man lights a candle on the steps in front of Asyamee, a Hindu temple in Kabul|
Diwali 2017: 10 Things Students Should Know About ‘The Festival Of Lights’
Diwali Or Deepawali 2017: 10 Things Students Should Know About ‘The Festival Of Lights’
Here are 10 important things students should know about the festival of lights:
1. The word “Deepawali” consists of two words. The word “Deep” means “light” and the word “avail” means “a row”. Hence, “Deepawali” means “a row of lights”. Its celebration includes millions of lights shining on housetops, outside doors and windows, around temples and other buildings in the communities and countries where it is observed.
2. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali night falls between mid-October and mid-November. It is important to know that the Diwali date falls on the 15th day of Kartik, which is a Hindu month. Hence, the exact Diwali date varies every year.
3. Before Diwali night, according to tradition, people clean, renovate, and decorate their homes and offices.
4. On the same night that Hindus celebrate Diwali, Jains, Sikhs and Newar Buddhists celebrate their own versions of the festival.
5. The holiday is known as Dipawoli in Assames, Dipaboli or Dipali in Bengali, divali in Gujarati, Punjab and Hindi, Deepavali in Kannada and Malayalam, Dipabali in Odia, Diyari in Sindhi, Teepavali in Tamil and Telugu, Galungan in Balinese and Swanti in Nepali or Tihar in Nepali.
6. Diwali preparations and rituals typically extend over a five-day period.
7. No firecrackers would be sold in the Delhi-national capital region (NCR) till October 31, the Supreme Court said on October 13. The court also asked the Delhi Police to implement its order banning sale of firecrackers. The court refused to relax its October 9 order banning the sale of firecrackers while dismissing a plea by traders who had sought its permission to sell crackers for at least a day or two before Diwali on October 19.
8. Every year, loud sound from firecrackers causes stress, terror and even death in strays and birds. This year will be no different, unless we become more responsible. The sound if firecrackers can be excruciating to a dog or a bird. The festival of lights calls for celebrations and merrymaking. Do spare a thought for the animals and the birds that are as much a part of this society as we are.
9. Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, launched the “Harit Diwali, Swasth Diwali” campaign, on August. Addressing a gathering of about 800 children from schools of Delhi and NCR, the Minister impressed upon the children the importance of their contribution towards reducing pollution by not bursting harmful fire crackers during Diwali.
10. Apart from India, Diwali or Deepavali is an official holiday in several countries including Fiji, Nepal, Singapore and Sri Lanka.