Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights, which is celebrated every autumn in the northern hemisphere (spring-time in the southern hemisphere) and is considered one of the most popular festivals of Hinduism. Diwali symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance”.
The word Diwali itself is derived from the Sanskrit word Deepavali, which means a “row or a string of lights”. The word is a conjugation of “deepa” or an earthen lamp and “vali” or a continuous row or series of something. The festival falls during the beginning of autumn and at the end of the summer harvest. Although the festival has been known as a predominantly Hindu festival, it’s also celebrated by Jains, Sikhs and Newar Buddhists.
Diwali is a five-day festival during which, Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs illuminate their homes, temples and workspaces with diyas, candles and lanterns. Diwali is also marked with fireworks and the decoration of floors with rangoli designs. Food is a major focus with families partaking in feasts and sharing mithai. The festival is an annual homecoming and bonding period not only for families, but also for communities and associations, particularly those in urban areas, which will organize activities, events, and gatherings. Many towns organize community parades and fairs with parades or music and dance performances in parks.
Diwali in 2018 will be celebrated on the 7th of November in most parts of India, and on 6th November in the South Indian states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The festival and its celebrations usually last for five days, among which the third day is considered the main day of celebration. During all five days of Dhanteras, Chhoti Diwali Bada Diwali, Govardhan Pooja and Bhai Dooj, houses, temples, and public places are all lit up with lights and earthen lamps as the themes of ‘victory of good over evil’ and ‘victory of light over dark’ are heavily associated with the festival.
It is considered auspicious to buy new goods during the days preceding Diwali as Hindus are busy cleaning and renovating their houses and repairing furniture. As previously outlined the third day of the five-day festival marks its climax and is a public holiday throughout the Indian subcontinent.
Considering the magnitude of firecrackers lit during the festival, this year, the Apex Court of India imposed a partial ban on firecrackers, allotting a specific period of 2 hours (8:00 pm to 10:00 pm) for the lighting of certain firecrackers, the purchase eco-friendly firecrackers has also been heavily urged by the authorities. The excitement for the festive period has however not dulled and a majority of the population eagerly awaits to celebrate this auspicious festival with family and friends.