Fireworks in the far night sky, homes sparkling with earthen diya lights, the aroma of lavish feasts wafting in the air, laughter of family members decked in finery and merriment of the kids bursting crackers.
The Diwali festival stirs fond memories in the hearts of many Indians, and luckily we get to relive these memories and create new ones in autumn every year.
Diwali or Deepavali means ‘row of lights’, as during the festival people light up the steps, parapets and hallways around their homes, with series of candles or traditional diyas. It is a festival celebrated between mid-October and mid-November, as per the Gregorian calendar. This festival is celebrated on the basis of the lunar focussed Hindu calendar, according to which the actual Diwali day is on November 11th this year.
Diwali festival is celebrated by Jains and Sikhs, as well as Hindus. It is a national holiday in many Hindu dominated countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Guyana, Malaysia and Singapore. Children from most of the Indian schools also eagerly await this yearly holiday time that enables them to be a part of the festival revelry uninhibited.
Usually Diwali, which is the third day of the five day celebration, is celebrated on Amavasya (a no-moon day). As per ancient Hindu beliefs, on this dark new moon night evil spirits are stronger and to drive those away, people light up their homes and offer their prayers to Gods to win over evil. Hence lighting diyas to drive away the darkness of the night is symbolic to the victory of good over evil.
Diwali is not just one festival but a combined celebration of five different events. It starts with the Dhanteras day. Dhan means wealth, and Diwali festival commences with the celebration of wealth. People purchase precious entities like gold coins or jewellery on this auspicious day. Playing gambling games with cards is also considered to bring good fortune to the players during Dhanteras night.
The second day of Diwali festival is Narakachaturdashi in the South and Choti Diwali in the North of India. Narakachaturdashi commemorates the death of the demon, Narakasura, by Lord Krishna. As the demon was slain before sunrise, people bathe after an oil massage in the wee hours and burst crackers before dawn to mark a fresh start devoid evil.
The third day which is the actual Diwali day, is believed to be the day when Lord Rama returned back to his kingdom Ayodhya, with his wife, Sita and brother, Lakshmana after fourteen years. Rama slayed Ravana on Dusshehra (tenth day of Navratri festival) and after eighteen days he reached his kingdom on the darkest night of the month. However to welcome their rightful king back the people of the kingdom lit the whole city with diyas or oil lamps. Today we try to recreate the day of Rama’s return on Diwali.
On Diwali day people also do Lakshmi Puja generally at an auspicious time in the evening, to invoke the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi, the deity of wealth and prosperity. This puja holds great value for the business community of India as it marks the beginning of a new financial year for them.
The celebrations continue the next day, which is the start of a New Year for some communities in India. The culmination of the festivities is through the Bhai Duj, which is a celebration of the brother and sister bond. As per mythology, the god of death, Yama visited his sister Yami on this day, so it is believed that any brother who visits his sister on this day will be blessed with long life.
India is a land of festivals and of all the festive occasions, Diwali holds the highest importance. Diwali festival is all about sharing happiness and so people like sharing gifts with their close relatives, friends and business associates.
During Diwali Indians like to dress up in fine traditional attires and so it is also a season for shopping apparels, jewellery and other gift items. You can find an exquisite range of attires for men and women on our website, Strand of Silk. The picture below shows a glimpse of what we have on offer, this Diwali.
Traditional Diwali Attires
Before Diwali festival people clean, renovate and decorate their homes and offices. The Diwali season is a time for intense commercial activity as people are preparing for the festivities. Indians all over the world indulge in updating their abodes by shopping for home furnishings and other home goods like appliances and kitchen utensils.
After all the shopping, when the actual festival begins, it is celebrated with elaborate fanfare through firework displays, colourful light decorations including beautiful lanterns and traditional earthen candles called diyas.
Fireworks at Golden Temple, Amritsar during Diwali
The glitter of Diwali festival is also enhanced by colourful Rangolis displayed on the doorstep of every home, welcoming visitors. Rangolis are decorations made on the floor using colourful powders, coloured rice or flowers. Diyas are also used to adorn these rangolis and together, they make an appealing sight.
Food plays a critical role in any celebration and the Diwali festival is no exception. The traditional Indian sweets called ‘mithais’ in varying colours, and nuts and dry fruits boxed with decorative packaging, are popular gift options. Indian families also exchange homemade savouries like chakli, chivda, sev and ghughra, along with sweets. The home meals of Diwali festival vary as per the family’s culture and liking, due to the diversity in India from North to the South.
Vibrant food, dresses, atmosphere and spirits make this festival of lights, brighter. Irrespective of religion, festivals bring in joy and happiness, and get families and friends closer. Just like any other festival, Diwali is all about spreading good wishes. May the brightness of this Diwali festival, bring joy, peace and prosperity in your life.
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