Deepavali, which is also commonly known as Diwali, is mainly a festival of lights. It is one of the Sikhs, core festivals among Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Mainly for Newar Buddhists. This festival of lights is mainly celebrated for five days and during the time of the in-between middle of October and middle of November. As per the Hindu lunisolar calendar, it is the month of Kartika. Diwali, the festival of lights mainly symbolises the spiritual power that indicates ‘victory of good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and light over dark.’ Diwali is associated with various types of Gods and Goddesses depending on the regional tradition. For instance, this festival of light is widely connected with the Goddess of prosperity, Lakshmi; and on the other hand, it is also associated with other God and Goddesses such as Kali, Durga, Yami, Yama, Vishnu, Rama, Krishna, Kubera, Ganesha, Vishvakarman, or Dhanvantari. Although Diwali is mainly a festival of five days there is one day that is considered as the main day of the festival. On this main day, various religious people worship their Gods and Goddesses and celebrate the day as the main day of Diwali. In 2021, Diwali will take place on 4th November.
What is Diwali?
Diwali, the festival of lights mainly celebrated for five days, by worshipping many Gods and Goddesses. Here is the in-depth discussion regarding five days celebration of Diwali in India.
Related Article: History of Dhanteras: Popular Legends of Wealth and Grandeur
Dhanteras [Day 1]
The word Dhanteras is derived from the word Dhan which means wealth. On this day, Hindus clean their business premises and homes, light up diyas, prepare various types of sweets, and worship both Lakshmi and Ganesha together. The main purpose of this day is to worship God and Goddess for sustaining healthy and wealthy life for long-term. This is the first day of Diwali when everyone in the family starts to decorate their homes with beautiful lightings, decorations [rangoli], make homemade sweets and starts the preparation for Diwali.
Naraka Chaturdashi [Day 2]
Naraka Chaturdashi is also known as Chhoti Diwali which is celebrated as the second day of Diwali. This day is mainly celebrated as a reminder of the spiritual auspiciousness and reinforcing the ways to liberate souls from the suffering of hell (Naraka). On the other hand, few Hindu individuals also celebrate this day as a day to pray to welcome the divine peace for the souls who have passed away. On this occasion, Hindus light up days and pray that the souls of the ancestors can find peace and light in the afterlife. It is also the main day for buying festive foods such as sweets, stuffed delicacies like susiyam, maladu, pottukadalai, and many more.
Kali Puja [Day 3]
This day is mainly for the Bengali Hindu Community that focuses on the puja of the Goddess of war, Kali. Bengali Hindus mainly worship Goddess Kali as a form of power and strength to women, to reinforce the power required for women in the current time. As per their belief, it brings positive power and strength to fight evil and bad. Apart from that, on this day teenagers play with fireworks, Bengali Hindus light up their homes with diyas, wear new clothes and share festive foods.
Annakut, Govardhan Puja [Day 4]
Annakut means ‘mountain of foods‘. On this day, Hindus prepare a wide range of foods including a variety of ingredients to dedicate various dishes to Lord Krishna and then share this huge amount of food among the community. In Gujrat, this day of Diwali is celebrated as the first day of the year and they buy new essentials which are also known as sabras. On the other hand, few Hindus from the central, north and west regions also celebrate this day as Govardhan Puja by worshipping Lord Krishna. As per Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna saved the farming and cowherd community from floods and rain by lifting up the Govardhan mountain. Because of this, on this fourth day of Diwali, any Hindus also celebrate this day as Govardhan Puja.
Bhai Duj [Day 5]
Bhai Duj means ‘brother’s day’. On this fifth day of Diwali, Hindus celebrate the bonding between sister and brother. It has a similar spirit as Raksha Bandhan. On this day, sisters pray for the good health and wealth of their brothers and put ’tilaka’ on their forehead as a symbol for well wishes and protection from any harm and evil.
Where is Diwali mostly celebrated in India?
It can be understood from the above discussion that the five days festival of lights, Diwali celebrated in diverse ways by various individuals from different cultural backgrounds. And, it also differs based on the places. In India, there are few places where individuals will be able to witness the best celebration of Diwali, the festival of lights. The top ten places in India to visit during Diwali are listed below.
These are the cities in India that are completely decorated with beautiful and attractive lights during Diwali. The whole city got a complete makeover and a beautiful spiritual aura that spreads positivity and prosperity. Even nights seem like days with the beautiful decorations of lights.
Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on the Festival Celebrations
From 2020, the people of India have been suffering from the impact of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in many ways. And one of them is various restrictions during the festivals. Due to lockdown and strict restrictions levied by the Indian Government, individuals have to maintain social distancing. Festivals in India mean loud crowds, street foods, hopping puja pandals, going to temples, and many other things which is the complete opposite of social distancing and maintenance of hygiene. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has put restrictions on street food vendors, limited the number of people for pandal hopping, and restricted many places for visit.
However, even after all these restrictions, Hindus will celebrate their Diwali by lighting up their homes with diyas and decorations, sharing homemade foods, and lots of happiness and peace.