Ultimately, the Diwali Festival of Lights is a celebration of good over evil.
The festival is one of the biggest of the year in India and is full of religious and historical significance, similar to the Christmas holiday in the Christian world.
For the most part, Diwali is a Hindu festival, and people in different areas of the country celebrate Diwali for slightly different reasons.
For instance, northern India celebrates Diwali as King Rama’s return after his defeat of Ravana, and they use rows of lighted clay lamps.
Southern India’s Diwali celebrations are about Lord Krishna defeating the demon Narakasura.
Finally, western Indians celebrate Diwali as the day that Lord Vishnu sent King Bali to rule the nether world.
However, Diwali is a national holiday that people throughout the country celebrate, whether they are Hindu or non-Hindu.
Yet, no matter who participates, the holiday always represents the same symbolic victory of good over evil.
How Do People Celebrate Diwali?
Overall, Diwali is a five-day celebration where people, particularly Hindu devotees, have a huge party to honor the goddess Lakshmi. During Diwali, people dress in their best clothes while having parties (especially dinner parties) and attending fairs and carnivals.
Additionally, lighting oil lamps is a central part of the tradition because light and dark are important symbols of the holiday. Light symbolizes good and the inner light inside a person, while dark is evil and represents spiritual darkness.
Exchanging gifts, particularly sweets, is also an essential portion of the holiday.
Furthermore, many people clean their homes before the holiday because, in Hindu thought, cleanliness helps a person obtain wealth. Plus, visitors will find that dana (charitable giving) is an expected part of the festival.
Why Do People Light Diyas During Diwali?
Diyas are oil lamps, and many Hindus light them twice a day year-round because they signify positives, like good fortune, purity, and power. However, during Diwali, which is a time of supreme darkness, people light them all over their house to weaken evil energies and forces.
When is Diwali?
The date that India celebrates Diwali occurs on a different day every year because the specific day relies on the Hindu lunar calendar and always falls on the darkest part of the lunar month or the day of the new moon. However, India’s festival is always between mid-October and mid-November, and, in 2022, it lands on Monday, October 24th.
Yet, you should know that even though Diwali is on October 24th, the festival actually lasts for five days, with the main celebration taking place on the third day. Therefore, the Diwali festival runs from October 22nd to October 26th in 2022.
The holiday lasts for five days, and each day represents different historical events in the Hindu religion.
Dhanteras (Saturday, October 22nd)
The first day is Dhanteras and is the beginning of the festival. This day falls on the 13th day of the Krishna Paksha in the Hindu calendar.
Dhanteras symbolizes the day that Lord Dhanwantari rose from the sea with medical knowledge to help mankind.
In India, people often buy expensive items, like gold, silver, and new clothes. People also bathe and pray at sunset for the Lord of Death with small oil lamps.
Chhoti Diwali or Kali Chaudas (Sunday, October 23rd)
On the second day, many Hindus rest to get ready for the main festival the next day. Massages and baths are common on Kali Chaudas, as well as visiting friends and family and exchanging presents. Many also pray for their ancestral spirits.
This day of Diwali marks the anniversary of when Krishna killed Narakasur’s demon.
Diwali (Monday, October 24th)
This day is when the actual Diwali day occurs and is the highlight of the five-day festival and the main day of the festival of lights.
The third day is when family and friends gather for Lakshmi puja, which is a prayer to the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, and worship for the victory of good (light) over evil (dark). However, you will find that in eastern India and Bangladesh, people tend to worship the goddess Kali instead of Lakshmi.
Vishwakarma (Tuesday, October 25th)
After celebrating a happy Diwali, Indians have Vishwakarma, also called Bestu Varas and Annakut.
People observe this day differently, usually depending on where they live. For instance, in western India, Bestu Varas is the beginning of the new year. Conversely, in the north, Vishwakarma is a day to worship instruments and arms, and businesses typically stay closed for this national festival.
But, no matter how people celebrate it, the fourth day is to honor when Krishna brought the people from Vraja to Govardhan Puja.
Bhai Dooj (Wednesday, October 26th)
Bhai Dooj, or Bhai Beej, is to remember when Yama gave his sister Yamuna a Vardhan that the first person who saw her that day would be freed from sin and attain liberation. Because of this story, brothers go out to visit their sisters on Bhai Dooj to ask about their wellbeing, and, in return, the sisters give them sweets to show their love.
Visiting India During Diwali
Even though most people observe the holiday with family members, travelers can still have fun when visiting the country during festivity week.
For example, visitors can see the gorgeous twinkling lights that encapsulate the cities and towns from all the light lamps in houses, businesses, and markets. They can also try out some of the sweet treats that people give out during the festival. Plus, if they are really lucky, they may get to see the designs that people make on their floors using colored rice or colored sand.
Or, to really get into the festivities, tourists can buy their own clay lamps and try the celebration out for themselves.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Diwali Only Celebrated in India?
No, people partake in the festival of lights wherever citizens practice Hinduism. For instance, in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Hindus pray at the Batu Caves temple after climbing the structure’s colored stairs.
Other countries that have a large number of Diwali celebrants include the United States, Fiji, Pakistan, and Singapore.
Do Non-Hindus Celebrate Diwali?
Yes, non-Hindus celebrate the day, and many religions observe the holiday in different ways and for other reasons than Hindus.
For Jains, the holiday is a way to honor Tirthankar Mahavira’s contributions to mankind as well as his spiritual awakening.
Sikhism celebrates this same day by remembering the release of Guru Hargobind Ji and 52 princes from prison in 1619.
Buddhists decorate temples and worship Buddha in honor of Emperor Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism.
What is the Story of King Rama?
The story of King Rama is an essential part of the light festival in northern India.
The Ramayana is an ancient Hindu epic that tells of how King Rama rescued his wife, Sita, from the evil king, Ravana.
Table of Contents
- How Do People Celebrate Diwali?
- Why Do People Light Diyas During Diwali?
- When is Diwali?
- Visiting India During Diwali
- Frequently Asked Questions