Diwali or Deepavali means A Cluster Of Lights or ‘a row of lamps’ It is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Hindu diaspora all over the world.. Traditionally, a number of small earthenware lamps known as Diyas are filled with oil and cotton wicks that are soaked in the oil are lighted to form a beautiful array of lights. In this millennium Diwali is enthusiastically celebrated by people of all nationalities, races and religions, Diwali, the festival of lights creates a magical world of joy and festivity. It celebrates the triumphant victory of good over evil – and the glory of light over darkness, a beam of hope over despair. Diwali marks a new beginning, a renewal of commitment to family values, and represents all the good virtues we seek such as love, reflection, forgiveness and knowledge. The festival is celebrated in various ways by different communities
Diwali for Sikhs
The third Sikh Guru Amar Dasji institutionalized Diwali as a Red-Letter Day when all Sikhs would gather to receive the Guru’s blessings.In1577, the foundation stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar was laid during Diwali. In 1619, on Diwali day, the sixth Sikh Guru Hargobindji, who was held captive by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir, was released from the Gwalior Fort along with 52 kings in 1619. Hence Diwali is celebrated as Bandi Chor Diwas by the Sikh diaspora all over the world. . The Sikh tradition holds that the Emperor Jahangir had imprisoned Guru Hargobind and 52 princes. The Emperor was asked to release Guru Hargobind which he agreed to do. However, Guru Hargobind asked that the princes be released also. The Emperor agreed, but said only those who could hold onto his cloak tail would be allowed to leave the prison. This was in order to limit the number of prisoners who could leave. However, Guru Hargobind had a robe made with 52 pieces of fabric and so each prince was able to hold onto one piece and leave the prison.
Diwali for Tamilians
Known as Deepavali in TamilNadu, it commemorates the death of Narakasura at the hands of Lard Sri Krishna. It is belived that Narakasura, a malevolent demon, tortured common people and they prayed to lord Krishna to defeat him. The people then celebrated Narakasura's defeat with sparklers, lights and firecrackers. This celebration has the continued down the generations as Deepavali. In TamilNadu, Deepavali falls on the 14th day preceding the mavasya (new Moon) in the solar month of Aippasi. The day begins with an early morning oil bath, wearing new clothes, bursting of firecrackers, visiting Lord Ganesha, Lord Vishnu and Shiva Temples. The exchange of sweets between neighbours, visiting relations, and preparing Deepavali special sweets are traditions of the day.
Diwali for Nepalese
Nepalese celebrate Diwali as the Tihar festival. The five day festival of lights is dedicated not only to Gods, but also to animals such cows and dogs and to crows who are an integral part of daily human lives.
Diwali for Bengalis
Diwali is characterised as a ‘festival of lights’ symbolising victory of Good over Evil. It is a major social event in the Bengali calendar. Bengalis everywhere celebrate Diwali with a great sense of devotion, excitement and enthusiasm. Naturally, West Bengal, where the majority of Bengalis are, is the epicentre of this event, but it stretches out to almost all corners of the globe where Bengalis live. The first day of the Diwali festival begins with the lighting of lamps in every household and business enterprises. Diwali celebration coincides with Kali Puja held on the second day of the 3-day long Diwali festival. It is believed that on this day, Ma Kali, the goddess of power, killed the wicked demon called Raktavija. The Kali Puja is marked by lighting lamps and offering puja to this deity considered as the fearsome incarnation of Goddess Durga. Ma Kali is believed to be the destroyer of all evils. Bengalis traditionally believe that worshipping her during Diwali harbours a revival of justice, peace and harmony in this world.
Diwali for Gujaratis
Gujaratis celebrate Diwali as a five day event.
1st day : Diwali is on the last day of the dark fortnight of the last month of the Hindu calendar, which usually falls in October or November months of the Gregorian calendar. The first day is on the 13th day of the dark fortnight of Aso month, called Dhanteras, when people clean their homes, cook festive snacks and sweets, decorate the front of their houses with a colourful pattern called Rangoli and with flowers.. This is the day of the birth of Goddess Lakshmi who is the goddess of luck and wealth.. People buy gold and silver and perform Lakshmi Pooja in the evening.
2nd Day is the 14th day of the dark fortnight which is called the Narak Chaturdashi or Kali Chaudash. On this day the demon Narkasur was killed by Lord Krishna, freeing 16000 women that he had held hostage. This day symbolises destruction of evil so as to welcome the goodness of the new dawn.
Diwali Day –Legends proclaim that during the last day of the dark fortnight of the last month of the year, Goddess Lakshmi descends to the earth and people open their doors and windows to welcome Lakshmi into their homes. Business people perform Chopda Poojan of their books, so as to be blessed with wealth. Diwali day is also believed to be celebrated to mark the home coming of Lord Rama after 14 years of exile by lighting oil lamps throughout their kingdom.. People wear new clothes, exchange gifts of sweets and dried fruits, and enjoy playing with firecrackers.
New Year’s Day – 4th day of the festival is the start of the New Year. This day signifies the protection offered by Lord Krishna to protect cowherds from the wrath of Lord Indra who sent a terrible deluge of rain amd storm. Lord Krishna lifted the Goverdhan Mountain with his little finger to shelter the people. In temples this day is celebrated by offering mountains of delicious food to Lord Krishna and is known as Annakoot.
5th & final day of the celebration is caleed Bhai Dhooj. It symbolises the bond between brothers and sisters. The belief is that on this day Yama – God of Death visited his sister Yami showering her with gifts and promised that anyone visiting his sister with gifts and getting a tilak from her will be blessed on that day. Brothers proudly dine at their sisters’ home on this day.