Friday, November 05, 2010

Happy Diwali - Festival of Lights

Diwali (Dipavali, Divali or Deepawali), also known as 'the festival of lights', is an Indian festival that brings a series of festivals with it. The people of all age groups and classes celebrate Diwali throughout India with equal zeal and enthusiasm. They put on new clothes and participate in the various activities that are related to Diwali celebrations. Diwali falls on the day of 'Amavasyaa' usually in the month of October or November. On this day, people light tiny diyas (earthen lamps) to illuminate their homes with bright light and create lovely designs all around their home with colorful rangoli art.

Customs of Diwali

Customs of Diwali
Many interesting rituals and traditions have been attached to the celebrations of Diwali. It is a five-day long festival, which is celebrated with fun and fervor. The blissful festival calls for the exchange of gifts, sweets and heartfelt wishes. Fire crackers are burst and people enjoy wearing new clothes, on the auspicious day. Although the way of merrymaking is different and the customs are different, the feel among the people across the length and breadth of the country remains the same - to spread good cheer. It is the time to celebrate brotherhood. In the following lines, we have provided complete information on the customs of Diwali.

Rituals of Dipavali

First Day of Diwali
The first day of Diwali is known as 'Dhanteras'. People renovate, decorate their houses and workplaces on this day and make traditional 'Rangoli' motifs on the entrance, to welcome Goddess Lakshmi. Lamps and candles are lit throughout the night. It is considered auspicious to buy gold and silver on this day. Many people opt for buying new utensils on this day. In Maharashtra, offerings of lightly pounded dry coriander seeds with jaggery are made to the Goddess. Rural people revere their cattle on this day and cows are considered especially auspicious.

Second Day of Diwali
On second day, people take bath before sunrise, anoint themselves with oil and 'Ubtan' (scrub made up of gram flour and fragrant powders). Bengalis believe that Goddess Kali killed the demon Raktavija on this day. A general customs followed during the second day of Diwali is to burst crackers. People illuminate their homes with diya, as to welcome the set the mood for celebrations in the following day.

Third Day of Diwali
The third day is the main day of the Diwali festival. Jains have their own religious significance of the day, because they believe that Lord Mahavir attained 'Nirvana' (or Eternal Bliss) on the day. Swami Dayananda Saraswati, the great saint who gave rise to Hindu Renaissance, also left the mortal world on this day. On this day, people wear new clothes and share gifts and sweets with their friends and relatives. Women prepare delicacies and whole house is illuminated with 'diyas' and candles. Fireworks and crackers are the kids' favorites on this day.

Fourth Day of Diwali
On the 4th day is the 'Govardhan-Puja' or 'Annakoot'. In the temples of Mathura and Nathadwara, the deities are bathed with milk and adorned with precious clothes and ornaments. Then offerings of a large variety of delicacies are made to them.

Fifth Day of Diwali
The 5th day or the last day of this festival is called ' Bhai Duj '. On this day, sisters invite their brothers and their family to their homes and treat them with delicacies. In turn, brothers offer them with gifts and sweets.

Diwali Around The World

Diwali Around The World
Diwali is celebrated in almost all the regions of India. Apart from India, the festival is celebrated worldwide. It has become synonymous with the culture and celebrations of India. People in different parts of the world celebrate Diwali with zeal and enthusiasm. They consider the festival as the one that signifies the victory of good over the evil. It is believed that the evil spirits are destroyed into ashes by the fireworks. On the occasion, there are jubilations and feasts all around. The Hindus in Guyana, Fiji, Mauritius, Myanmar, Malaysia, Nepal, Japan, Thailand, Srilanka, Trinidad and Tobago as well as Britain, Indonesia, Singapore, Africa, Australia and even Southern America are known to celebrate Diwali. In the following lines, we have given information on worldwide Deepavali celebrations.

Diwali Celebrations Around The World

Diwali In India
Diwali is a five-day extravaganza in India. Diwali celebrations in India is marked by multi-colored display of Rangoli designs at the entranceway of residents, special pooja ceremonies, lines of colorful and sparkling lights and earthen lamps (diyas), exchange of sweets and gifts, fireworks and lots of shopping. Every home in the country shines with the glow of the dazzling lights and candles that are lit to welcome Goddess Lakshmi on Diwali.

Diwali In UK
In Britain, people indulge themselves in spring-cleaning their home. They wear new clothes and decorate their homes with fancy lights. The British city of Leicester is notable for the Diwali extravaganza. The official switch-on ceremony is the highlight of Diwali celebrations in Leicester. Thousands of people witness the ceremony.

Diwali In USA
Diwali celebrations in USA are akin to that witnessed in India. In USA, houses are decorated with earthen lamps. Spectacular display of sparkling electronic lights is the highlight of the celebrations. Colorful rangoli are also displayed. People in USA gather in the evenings, at a community hall nearby, where cultural events are organized. Fire crackers are burst and Diwali sweets and snacks are distributed among the family and friends.

Diwali In Australia
Diwali in Australia is marked by magnificent display of fireworks. The population of Australia, with Indian origin, celebrates the festival with much pomp and gaiety. Indians living in Australia use the opportunity to showcase their unity in diversity and the rich cultural heritage of India. They illuminate their homes with colorful lights and diyas.

Diwali In Mauritius
About 63% population in Mauritius has Indian origins and 80% of them are Hindus. Therefore, the celebration of Hindu festivals is a common sight in Mauritius. Diwali is celebrated to commemorate the return of Lord Rama, after 14 years of exile. Much like India, earthen lamps are lit in rows, in Mauritius. Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped and crackers are burst to ward off the evil spirits

Diwali In Nepal
In Nepal, Diwali is known as 'Tihar' and celebrated for five days, in October/November. On the first day, cows are worshipped and given offerings. On the second day, dogs are revered and offered special food. On the third day, Diwali celebrations in Nepal are similar to that in India, with lights, lamps and social activities. On the fourth day Yama, the Lord of Death, is worshipped and appeased. On the fifth and final day, brothers and sisters meet and exchange gifts.

Diwali In Malaysia
Diwali is celebrated in most parts of Malaysia, except in the regions of Sarawak and Federal Territory of Labuan. Nearly 8% of the population of Malaysia comprises of Hindus, who celebrate 'Hari Diwali' that symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. Malaysian people start their Diwali celebrations with the traditional oil bath, visit the temples and offer prayers. Small earthen lamps with coconut oil are lit to commemorate the victory of Lord Rama over the demon-king Ravana.

Diwali In Indonesia
Although majority of the Indonesian population follows Islam - Hindus constitute only 2% of the population - Diwali is celebrated with much pomp and gaiety. The island of Bali is famous for Diwali celebrations, as majority of the Indians are concentrated there. They celebrate the festival by following rituals that are native to India. The celebrations in the country are similar to that of India.

Diwali In Trinidad
Diwali celebrations in Trinidad are marked by the colorful display of fireworks. Since 1966, the festival is celebrated for nine days and culminated with a national holiday. Indian classical music performances, Hindu devotional song renditions, dance shows are organized during the festival. People clad themselves in ethnic Indian attire, to take part in the merrymaking.

Diwali In Singapore
Serangoon Road in Singapore is famous for Diwali celebrations. This is the place where maximum people of Indian origin reside. During Diwali, the streets in Singapore are filled with families, who are busy shopping for the festival. The archways are decorated with flowers and garlands. Diyas are also lit. People visit Hindu temples in Singapore to offer prayers.

Diwali In Fiji
The people belonging to the Indo Fijian community decorate their homes with flashing lights. Apart from Hindus in the island nation, non-Hindus also take part in the festivities. Crackers are burst by children, who take part in various extracurricular activities held in their schools. Exchange of sweets and fireworks are part of the merrymaking. The diyas, candles and electric lights are lit in the evening. The celebrations are culminated by feasting.

Diwali 2010
In 2010 Diwali will fall on 5th November

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