Another five for Friday post! This time, since I am in a festive mode and mood with the memories of Navaratri and Golu lingering and the excitement of the upcoming festivities, it is full of fascinating facts about Diwali, the festival of lights. In addition, I have some great ideas to brighten your Diwali some more…
Diwali or Deepavali
This festival’s name Deepavali comes from the combination of two Sanskrit words – dipa (meaning lamp) and avali (meaning row). Thus Deepavali, also Diwali, literally means “row of lights.” It celebrates the victory of light over darkness, of good over evil, and of knowledge over ignorance. Diwali is the time to get together with loved ones, and to celebrate the light that people bring in each other
Five Fascinating Facts About Diwali
Lighting Up Moonless Night For Millenniums Now
This festival of lights always falls on/around the new moon, so the lamps light up that moonless night! And according to sources, the first ever Diwali was celebrated almost 2,500 years ago.
One Festival, Many Nations
Many countries around the world mark this festival with a national/official holiday; including Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Guyana, Fiji, Mauritius, Myanmar, Suriname, Malaysia, and Trinidad and Tobago.
And Many Names
While most of India observes this festival by the name of Diwali or Deepavali, different people and other countries have various names for this beloved festival. The Nepalese celebrate the festival of Diwali as Tihar or Swanti. In the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, people observe the festival as Kali Puja. People in Malaysia celebrate Diwali as ‘Hari Diwali’. The Thai celebrate Diwali by the name Loi Krathong which means, ‘to float a basket.’
In addition, the festival has specific celebrations and events across different parts of India, and they each have specific names they go by!
Also Many Stories
One story around Diwali is that when Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya with Sita after defeating Ravana, the people rejoiced, and showed their joy by lighting lamps all over the kingdom. So in effect, Diwali celebrates a royal homecoming, and this story also links the festival to lights to another festival that we just celebrated – Dussehra.
In South India, Deepavali marks Lord Krishna’s defeat of the demon Narakasura, while in the eastern Indian state of Bengal, people worship the goddess Kali on this occasion. Yet others celebrate the festival to mark the marriage of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi, while many also worship Lakshmi who is believed to enter homes and bless them with prosperity during Diwali.
And Many Ways to Celebrate and Observe this Festival
While the lighting of lamps and even fireworks is a pretty common thread for Diwali (or its other variants) around the world, each region also has some uniqueness to the associated festivities. Another common thing across the nation, cleaning up our homes as much as possible and decking them up too – for we believe that the goddess of wealth enters those homes that are welcoming and clean.
In the southern state of Tamil Nadu, we start the day off with an early morning oil bath (or the Ganga snanam). Then, after swallowing a spoon of the Diwali lehiyam (a herbal preparation that most likely became a part of the festival to offset all the snacks and sweets we end up eating), we head out in new clothes bought for the festival to burst a few crackers along with friends and neighbors.
Many northern Indian states have a five-day long celebration for the festival, with each day marking a different aspect – from celebrating the goddess of wealth on Dhanteras to celebrating families with Bhai Dhooj.
h/t, References, and Further Reading for Fascinating Facts About Diwali
- Wikipedia Diwali page
- History.com’s Diwali page
- More about Diwali at the Britannica website
- Five Fun & Fascinating Facts About the Navaratri Festival
- 3 New(er) Festivals of Lights
And Some More
This beautiful ad from an Indian clothing company, simply because.
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, hope you enjoyed this post. Which of these fascinating facts about Diwali appealed most to you? What is your favorite festival? Do you have any interesting facts about the festival to share? Do let me know in the comments.