There are a great number of HinduReligious Festivals held throughout the world. A festival may be observed with acts of worship, offerings to deities, fasting, feasting, vigil, rituals, fairs, charity, celebrations, Puja, Homa, aarti etc. The festivals typically celebrate events from Hindu mythology, often coinciding with seasonal changes. There are many festivals which are primarily celebrated by specific sects or in certain regions of the Indian subcontinent.
The festive season in India is the most widely celebrated and rejoiced by the people. Festivals not only have a historic significance to them, they are rooted in various cultural and linguistic norms associated with them. The festivities have their own spark, they bring together, or in other words, unite people of different religions and sects into a unified whole. With so many festivals always round the corner, there is a wave of liveliness and celebration in the society. Bringing people together is just one aspect of it, festivals hold with them the sanctimonious cultural roots and traditions that is unique to every festival. The onset of the famous Diwali marks the beginning of lighting 'diyas', beautifying homes, offering gifts and visiting our near and dear ones. Similarly, the Holi festival is said to be the 'Festival of Colors", with its magnificent rain dance and the 'gulaal', it surely colors the lives of people. We see that festivals is what makes India a cultural hub, with its vast diversity and yet so much unity.
'Utsava' is the Sanskrit word for Hindu festivals, meaning 'to cause to grow 'upward'.Uthsava or Utsava or Utsav is derived from the Sanskrit word, Utsava. The Sanskrit word Utsava comes from the word "ut" meaning "removal" and "sava" which means "worldly sorrows" or "grief".
Observance periods (tithi)
In the Hindu calendar dates are usually prescribed according to the lunar calendar. In Vedic timekeeping, a tithi is a lunar day.
List and descriptions of major Hindu festivals
|Major Hindu Festivals||Photo||Hindu tithi of observance||Descriptions|
|Makara Sankranti or Pongal marks the transition of the Sun into Makara rasi. It marks the gradual increase of the duration of the day.|
Pongal is the first day of Uttarayana and coincides with the beginning of the Tamil month of Thai.
|Pongal is one of the most popular harvest festivals of Tamil Nadu. Pongal occurs in the middle of January every year and marks the auspicious beginning of Uttarayana (sun's journey northwards). The Pongal festival lasts for four days. Celebrations include a drawing of Kolam, swinging & the cooking of delicious Pongal.|
This day coincides with Makara Sankranti. Pongal is also commemorated by Jallikattu as a part of festivities as a sport of valor
The festival is celebrated mostly on January 14 of the Gregorian calendar
|Fifth day of the waxing moon of Magh (Hindu calendar)||Vasant Panchami (also called Saraswati Puja by Bengalis and Odias) is celebrated for the blessing of Saraswati, goddess of wisdom and the arts.|
|The full moon day of the Tamil month of Thai||Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil community. The word Thaipusam is derived from the Tamil month name Thai and Pusam, which refers to a star near the location of the moon during the festival. The festival commemorates the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a spear so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman. |
Kavadi Attam (Tamil:காவடி ஆட்டம்) is a dance performed by the devotees during the ceremonial worship of Murugan, the Tamil God of War. It is often performed during the festival of Thaipusam and emphasises debt bondage. The Kavadi itself is a physical burden through which the devotees implore for help from the God Murugan.
Statue of Shiva meditating
|Thirteenth night of the waning moon of Magh (Hindu calendar)||Maha Shivaratri is the great night of Shiva, during which followers of Shiva observe religious fasting and the offering of Bael (Bilva) leaves to Shiva. Mahashivaratri Festival or ‘The Night of Shiva’ is celebrated with devotion and religious fervor in honor of Lord Shiva, one of the deities of Hindu Trinity. Shivaratri falls on the moonless 14th night of the new moon in the Hindu month of Phalgun, which corresponds to the month of February - March in English Calendar. Celebrating the festival of Shivaratri devotees observe day and night fast and perform ritual worship of Shiva Lingam to appease Lord Shiva. To mark the Shivratri festival, devotees wake up early and take a ritual bath, preferably in river Ganga. After wearing fresh new clothes devotees visit the nearest Shiva temple to give ritual bath to the Shiva Lingum with milk, honey, water etc. On Shivaratri, worship of Lord Shiva continues all through the day and night. Every three hours priests perform ritual pooja of Shivalingam by bathing it with milk, yoghurt, honey, ghee, sugar and water amidst the chanting of “Om Namah Shivaya’ and ringing of temple bells. Nightlong vigil or jaagran is also observed in Shiva temples where large number of devotees spend the night singing hymns and devotional songs in praise of Lord Shiva. It is only on the following morning that devotee break their fast by partaking prasad offered to the deity.|
Holi in Pushkar, Rajasthan
|Full moon of the Phalgun month (Hindu calendar)||Holi or Phagwah is a popular spring festival. Holi commemorates the slaying of the demoness Holika by Lord Vishnu's devotee Prahlad. Thus, the festival's name is derived from the Sanskrit words "Holika Dahanam", which literally mean "Holika's slaying". The festival is called Shigmo and Shimga in Goa and rural Maharashtra respectively.|
|Shigmo is celebrated in Goa as one of the prominent festivals of the Konkani Hindu community.The main festival coincides with Holi.|
|In Maharashtra and parts of Madhya Pradesh, the festival of colors is celebrated five days after Holi on Rang Panchami, .|
|"Gangaur" is the colourful and the one of the most important festivals of people of Rajasthan and is observed throughout the state with great fervour and devotion by womenfolk who worship Gauri, the consort of Lord Shiva during March–April.|
|First nine days of the Chaitra month (Hindu calendar)||Navratri is the Hindu festival of worship and dance. In Sanskrit the term literally means "nine nights". During this festival the forms of Shakti are worshipped, and effigies are burned.|
Home shrine on Rama Navami
|Ninth of the Chaitra month (Hindu calendar)||Rama Navami is the celebration of the birth of Rama. Rama Navami is the day on which Lord Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, incarnated in human form in the land of Ayodhya. He is the ardha ansh of Vishnu or has half the divinitive qualities of Lord Vishnu. The word “Rama” literally means one who is divinely blissful and who gives joy to others, and one in whom the sages rejoice. Ram Navami falls on the ninth day of the bright fortnight in the month of Chaitra (April/May) and coincides with Vasant Navratri or Chait Durga Puja. Therefore, in some regions, the festival is spread over nine days. This day, marking the birthday of Lord Rama, is also observed as the marriage day of Rama and Sita and thus also referred to as Kalyanotsavam. In Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Rama, a huge fair is held with thousands of devotees gathering to celebrate this festival. The fair continues for two days, and rathyatras, carrying the Deities of Ram, his brother Laxman, His wife Sita, and His greatest devotee Mahavir Hanuman, are taken out from almost all Ram Temples. Hanuman is known for is his devotion to Rama, and his tales form an important part of the celebration. In Andhra Pradesh, Ram Navami is celebrated for 10 days from the Chaitra saptami to the Bahula Padyami that fall in the month of March and April. Temples re-enact the marriage of Lord Rama and Sita to commemorate this event, since this day is also the day they got married.|
|First Day of waxing moon of Chaitra (Hindu calendar)||Gudhi Padwa / ChetiChand is celebrated on the first day of the Hindu Lunar month of Chaitra, and is celebrated as New Year's Day by Marathis, Konkanis and Sindhis . According to the Brahma Purana, this is the day on which Brahma created the world.|
|Ugadi (meaning "the start of an era" in Kannada) is New Year's Day for the Kannadigas and Telugus.||Called Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra|
Ganges at Haridwar, Uttarakhand
|First day of solar month of Vaisakha.||Mesha Sankranti (also called VaisakhaSankranti) represents the transition of the sun into the Mesha (Aries) Zodiac. Marks the start of the solar new year in lunisolar calendars. Involves bathing in holy waters. Regional new year festivals are also observed on this day such as Vishu, Pohela Boishakh and Vaisakhi. Represents the vernal (Spring) equinox.|
|Vishu is a Hindu festival celebrated in Kerala. It falls around 14 April of the Gregorian year.|
|The Tamil New Year follows the Nirayan vernal equinox. it falls around 14 April of the Gregorian year.|
|Vaisakha/Bohag (Assamese calendar) – The first month of Hindu calendar||Rongali Bihu (mid-April, also called Bohag Bihu), the most popular Bihu celebrates the onset of the Assamese New Year (around 15 April) and the coming of Spring.|
|Hanuman Jayanti is the celebration of the birth of Hanuman, Rama's loyal devotee. To mark the birth of Lord Hanuman, Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated all over India in the month of Chaitra in Hindu calendar. The great Hanuman is known for its great strength, power and his immortal devotion towards Lord Rama. He is considered to be a greatest follower of Lord Rama and played a crucial role in his life. He is considered to be as one of the most powerful Hindu gods in India. Celebrations on Hanuman Jayanti began early in the day with special puja being performed by devotees. Devotees perform holy Puja in temples dedicated to Sri Hanuman or at Home. People in India organize special prayers for Lord Hanuman to get rid of evil spirits. The God is known for its magical powers. Prayers and Hymns are sung all day long in various Hanuman temples dedicated to the lord. Hanuman is considered as a symbol of Power and great strength in Hindu mythology. On auspicious day of Hanuman Jayanti, People apply red Sindoor from Lord's feet on their foreheads. This is considering being a ritual for good health and good luck.|
|Sixth day of the bright fortnight of the month of Jyestha (Hindu calendar)||The marriage of Shiva and Parvati is celebrated as Sitalsasthi. It is celebrated as a carnival, in which people and artists from different walks of life participate, making it more beautiful and bringing out the true colour of life.|
Tying threads around a banyan tree (wata)
|Full moon of Jyeshta (Hindu calendar)||Vat Pournima is observed in Maharashtra. Pournima means "full moon." Women pray for the prosperity of their husbands by tying threads around a banyan tree.|
Women with Bonam performing parikrama
|Bonalu is a festival celebrated for a Mother Goddess ( such as the goddesses Pochamma, Yellamma, etc.) in the Telangana.|
Women dancing around Bathukammas
|Bathukamma is a festival celebrated during the months of September and October in 10 districts of Telangana.|
|Second to tenth day of waxing moon phase of month Ashadha (Hindu Calendar)||Rath Yatra is the festival associated with Jagannath.It is the most important festival of Bengalis and Odias .|
Raja Doli khela, Oriya festival
|The second day(Raja Shankranti) signifies beginning of the solar month of Mithuna||Raja Parba is a four-day-long festival. It inaugurates and welcomes the agricultural year all over Odisha.|
|Full moon of Ashadh (Hindu calendar)||Guru Purnima is the day devotees offer puja (worship) to their Guru. This was also the day when Vyasa, author of the Mahabharata was born.|
|Mahalakshmi Vrata is a puja performed by married Hindu women to seek the blessings of Mahalakshmi, goddess of wealth and prosperity.|
Thiruvathira Kali during Onam in Kerala
|Onam Onam is the harvest festival of Kerala. Though Onam is traditionally a Hindu festival celebrated in Kerala, contemporarily Onam is celebrated by the Kerala diaspora across the globe. Onam commemorates the rule of Mahabali, an Asura(demon) king who loved his subjects. During his rule people were happy, honest and full of righteousness. Legend says Lord Vishnu took the incarnation of Vamana, a dwarf Brahmin who visited Mahabali seeking three steps of land for sitting in self denunciation. Cleverly Vamana defeated Mahabali and sent him to the netherworld. Onam is the annual homecoming of the legendary Emperor Mahabali. It falls during the month of Chingam (August–September) and lasts for ten days. The festival is marked by various festivities, including intricate flower carpets, elaborate banquet lunches, snake boat races, Onappottan, Kaazhchakkula in Guruvayoor, Puli Kali, Kaikottikkali etc. These festivities make Onam a unique festival on the earth which is embellished by most number of cultural elements and it can be undoubtedly said that these elements constitute the colorfulness, diversity and richness that no other festival can claim.On Onam day people conduct special prayers in Hindu temples.Although Prayers in Hindu temples are important part of the festival, non-Hindus are not allowed to enter temples..|
|Full moon of Shravana (Hindu calendar)||Raksha Bandhan is a festival celebrated mainly in northern Indian states. Rakhi is a special occasion to celebrate the chaste bond of love between a brother and a sister.|
|Third day after Raksha Bandhan||"Teejdi" is a festival of Sindhis. On this day Sindhi ladies observe a day long fasting for longer life of their husbands. They take dinner after "Chandra Darshan" i.e. seeing Moon.|
Govinda Pathaks forming human tower
|Eighth day of waning moon of Bhadrapad (Hindu calendar)||Krishna Janmaashtami is the Hindu festival celebrating the birth of Krishna. It is actually called as Krishna Jayanthi. The date falls not only on the eighth day of the waning moon of Bhadrapad, but always on Rohini Nakshatra. Janmashtami, the birthday of Lord Krishna is celebrated with great devotion and enthusiasm in India in the month of July or August. According to the Hindu calendar this religious festival is celebrated on the Ashtami of Krishna Paksh or the 8th day of the dark fortnight in the month of Bhadon. Sri Krishna is considered as the one of the most powerful human incarnations of the Lord Vishnu. He was born around 5,200 years ago in Mathura. The sole objective of Sri Krishna's birth was to free the Earth from the evilness of demons. He played an important role in Mahabharata and propagated the theory of bhakti and good karma which are narrated deeply in the Bhagwat Geeta. Sri Krishna was born in a prison in the custody of Kansa. Vasudev, His father immediately thought of his friend Nand and decided to hand over his child to him to save Krishna from the clutch of Kansa. Krishna grew up in Gokul and finally killed his uncle, King Kansa. The actual celebration of Janmashtami takes place during the midnight as Sri Krishna is believed to be born on a dark, stormy and windy night to end the rule and violence of his uncle, Kansa. All over India this day is celebrated with devotional songs and dances, pujas, arti, blowing of the Conch and rocking the cradle of baby Sri Krishna. The Janmashtami celebration of Mathura and Vrindavan, the places where Sri Krishna had spent his life, are very special. On this day temples and homes are wonderfully decorated and illuminated. Night long prayers are offered and religious mantras are sung in the temples.|
|Eighth day of waxing moon of Bhadrapad (Hindu calendar)||Radhastami is celebrated all across India especially in Northern India on Bhadrapad Shukla Paksha Ashtami as birth anniversary of Goddess Radha, consort of lord Krishna.|
|Gowri Habba is celebrated in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu. Gowri is worshipped for her ability to bestow courage to her devotees. Newly wed couples are invited to the house of the groom's parents and served with varieties of food.|
|Fourth day of the waxing moon of Bhadrapada (Hindu calendar)||Ganesh Chaturthi is the celebrated as the arrival of Ganesh on the earth. It is very important festival in Maharashta. Ganesh Festival celebrated in Pune in very traditional way. Its awesome Mirwanuk on last day of festival.|
|Fifth day of the waxing moon of Bhadrapada (Hindu calendar)||Nuakhai is celebrated to welcome the new rice of the season. This is an agricultural festival mainly observed by people of western Odisha (Kosal).|
|First nine nights of the waxing moon of Ashvin||Navarathri is the Hindu festival of worship and dance. In Sanskrit the term literally means "nine nights". During this festival the forms of Shakti are worshiped. Literally “nine nights”, this nine – day period from the new moon day to the ninth day of Ashvin is considered the most auspicious time of the Hindu calendar and is hence the most celebrated time of the year. Although it has different names in different parts of India, Hindus from all regions celebrate it. From Kashmir in the North to Tamil Nadu in the South, and from Gujarat in the West to Sikkim in the East, it is celebrated with great enthusiasm as the conquest of good over evil. Every region has its own myths and reasons to explain this. The nine different aspects of Devi are worshipped over the nine days.|
|First ten nights of the waxing moon of Ashvin||These are the most popular forms under which she is worshipped: Durga, goddess beyond reach; Kali, the auspicious power of time; Amba or Jagdamba, mother of the world; Annapurna, giver of food and plenty; Sarvamangala, auspicious goddess; Bhairavi, terrible, fearful, power of death; Chandika or Chandi, violent, wrathful, furious; Lalita, playful; Bhavani, giver of existence;Tara, giver of success in work. It is the most important festival of Bengalis and Odias . |
Durga Puja celebration in Dhaka
|Tenth day of waxing moon of Ashvin (Hindu calendar)||Vijayadashami is the Hindu celebration of good over evil.|
|New moon of Ashvin (Hindu calendar)||Deepavali which means "row of lights/lamps" in Kannada and Telugu and Marathi and Sanskrit is called "Diwali" in North India, Deepa means lamp and in Hindi a lamp is mostly called a Diya or Di. The festival is celebrated on the occasion of Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama killing a demon Narakasura. Another story says the festival is celebrated for the return of Rama and Sita to the kingdom Ayodhya after fourteen years of exile. |
Rama is exiled to the forest for 14 years, his devoted wife Sita and humble brother Laxman decide to join him, after 14 years the whole village know he is returning so light lamps or 'divas' to guide him, his wife and brother home. So every year lamps are lit to represent Rama finding his way back home after the harsh punishment of being sent to exile in the forest.
|Second day of the waxing moon of Kartik (Hindu calendar)||Bhai dooj, also referred to as Bhaubeej in Marathi, is the ceremony performed by Hindus, generally, on the second day of Deepavali. It is celebrated among brothers and sisters and is similar to Raksha Bandhan, except there is no tying of rakhi involved.|
|15th of the Full moon day of Kartik (November–December)||A unique festival is celebrated in Varanasi this day which is called Dev Devali. The Kartik Purnima festival also coincides with the Jainlight festival and Guru Nanak Jayanti|
|Chhath is mainly observed in Bihar and Terai, but is also celebrated elsewhere. It is a festival dedicated to the Sun God for bestowing the bounties of life and fulfilling wishes.|
|Skanda Sashti is decided on lunar month during sixth day of Karthika Masam (October–November). It is one of the most important festival dedicated to Lord Murugan the second son of Shiva. On this festival is celebrated the victory of Murugan against the Asuras.|
|Champa Sashti festival is a six day festival observed from the first to the sixth of the Hindu month of Margashirsha (November- Early december). It is one of the most important festival dedicated to Lord Khandoba.This festival celebrates the victory of Khandoba against the demons Mani-Malla.|
|After 8 days of Kartik Purnima||Prathamastami is a festival that originated in Odia. It is held on the eighth day of the month of Agrahayana, when older female relatives pray for the prosperity of their eldest child. The festival is followed by rituals and recitations of the Glory of Mahalakshmi and Shashti devi.|
Dnyaneshwar's palkhi holding the footwear of the saint
|Yatra (also Zatra and jatra) refers to the pilgrimage festivals celebrated at Hindu temples. Idols and murtis are taken out on special procession in a palkhi (a palanquin) or a chariot called the rath. Every temple observes this festival once a year on the traditional day. Palkhi is main tradition of Maharashtra. Sant Dhnyaneshwar had started the palkhi from Alandi (Pune) to Pandharpur. Every year Marathi people celebrates Palkhi from Alandi and Dehu to Pandharpur.|
Pithalai vilakku during Karthigai Deepam in Mumbai.
|Karthikai Deepam is an ancient festival of lights celebrated by Tamil Hindus on the full moon day of Karthikai month (November/December). This occurs on the day when the moon is in conjunction with the constellation Karthigai (Pleiades) and purnima. It is the same as Kartik Poornima; however, since Tamils follow the Hindu Solar calendar with correction for precession of the equinoxes, the Tamil date matches the actual constellation.|
|A Winter Solstice celebration that lasts five days.||Pancha Ganapati is a modern Hindu festival celebrating Lord Ganesha, the Five-Faced Maha Ganapati—Lord of Categories.|
|A pilgrimage made every four years to the Ganges river||The Purna (complete) Kumbh takes place every twelve years, and is an ordinary large Kumbh Mela. The Ardh (half) Kumbh Mella, a smaller Kumbh Mela, is celebrated every six years. The normal Kumbh Mela is celebrated every 4 years. The Maha (great) Kumbh Mela, a special large Kumbh Mela, occurs every 12 'Purna Kumbh Melas', or 144 years.|
Purna Kumbha Mela
Arch Bridge Rajahmundry over Godavari
|Godavari Pushkaram or Godavari Pushkaralu is most commonly stated as it is the festival of the river Godavari. The main significance of this Godavari Pushkaralu is that It occurs once in every 12 years in other words called as Pushakara. The river Godavari took it birth at triambakeswar of Nasik which is located in Maharashtra state. It flow along the various regions of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and finally flows into the Bay of Bengal.Maha Pushkaralu which comes once in 144 years. |
Main centre's that celebrate Pushkaram are Rajahmundry, Bhadrachalam, Trimbakeshwar & Nasik.Most of the Godavari River is connected with Rajahmundry, where it has wide spread across the city.
|Sama Chakeva||"Sama Chakeva (Nepali or Hindi: सामाचकेवा) is an important festival observed by Mithila region that extends from Terai of Nepal to Bihar and Jharkhanda states of India. With great enthusiasm, young brothers and sisters celebrate this festival in the month of Kartik as per Bikram Sambat Calendar, which is in the month of November, when birds traditionally begin the migration of beautiful and colourful birds from the Himalayas to plain parts of Nepal (Terai) and India. This festival demonstrates love and affection between brothers and sisters. |
This festival begins immediately after the conclusion of Chhath festival in Nepal and northern parts of India, and ends on the full moon day of Kartik, that coincides in the month of November."
|December 25 every year||Tulsi Pujan Diwas is celebrated on December 25 by Hindus in India. Tulsi in Hinduism is used for medicinal and spiritual use. It is considered sacred in Hinduism and it is believed that Tulsi brings prosperity.|
- ^Sri Venkateswara Swami Temple of Greater Chicago
- ^, Pongalfestival.org.
- ^Friedrichs, Kurt (1994). "Sarasvatī". In Schuhmacher, Stephan; Woerner, Gert. The Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion: Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Zen. Boston: Shambala. p. 306. ISBN 0-87773-980-3.
- ^Kent, Alexandra. Divinity and Diversity: A Hindu Revitalization Movement in Malaysia. University of Hawaii Press, 2005. (ISBN 8791114896)
- ^Hume, Lynne. Portals.
- ^"Sama Chakeva". Wikipedia. 2017-11-06.
This article is about the Hindu festival. For the related Jain festival, see Diwali (Jainism).
"Dipavali" and "Deepavali" redirect here. For the related Nepalese festival, see Tihar. For the films, see Deepavali (disambiguation).
|Diwali / Deepavali|
Rangoli decorations, made using coloured powder or sand, are popular during Diwali.
|Observed by||Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Newar Buddhists|
|Type||Cultural, seasonal, religious|
|Celebrations||Diya and lighting, home decoration, shopping, fireworks, puja (prayers), gifts, performing religious rituals, feast and sweets|
|Begins||Dhanteras, two days before Diwali|
|Ends||Bhai Dooj, two days after Diwali|
|Date||Varies per Hindu calendar|
|2017 date||19 October (Thursday)|
18 October (Wednesday) in South India & Singapore
|Related to||Kali Puja, Galungan, Diwali (Jainism), Bandi Chhor Divas, Tihar, Swanti|
Diwali or Deepavali is the Hindu festival of lights celebrated every year in autumn in the northern hemisphere (spring in southern hemisphere). It is an official holiday in Fiji, Guyana, India,Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. On the island of Jamaica, it is celebrated proudly by the Indo-Jamaican community, however in 2010 it was inaugurated as an official yearly event at the historic Devon House residence for the first time, in an effort to celebrate the country's Indian heritage on a national level. One of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, it spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. Its celebration includes millions of lights shining on housetops, outside doors and windows, around temples and other buildings in the communities and countries where it is observed. The festival preparations and rituals typically extend over four to six day period. The word Diwali is used by some communities to mean all the festivities while others think of it as one festival night on the no moon day of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika in Bikram Sambat calendar (the month of Aippasi in Tamil Calendar). In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali falls in mid-October and mid-November.
Before Diwali, people clean, renovate, and decorate their homes and offices. During Diwali, people dress up in new clothes or their best outfits, light up diyas (lamps and candles) inside and outside their home, participate in family puja (prayers) to Lakshmi – the goddess of prosperity, light fireworks, engage in family feasts, sharing mithai (sweets), and exchange of gifts between family members and close friends. Diwali also marks a major shopping period in nations where it is celebrated.
The name of festive days as well as the rituals of Diwali vary significantly among Hindus, based on the region of India. In many parts of India, the festivities start with Vasubaras, the day for the cattle, followed by Dhanteras or Dhanatrayodashi (in northern and western part of India). Dhanteras is followed by Naraka Chaturdasi and Laxmi Puja. Laxmi Puja on the no moon day is considered the main day of Diwali in some communities. Next day after the no moon day, is Goverdhan pooja in Northern part of the country. On the same day, in some places, Diwali Padva is celebrated which is dedicated to the relationship of wife and husband. The festivities end with Bhai Dooj dedicated to the bond between sister and brother. Dhanteras usually falls eighteen days after Dussehra.
On the same night that Hindus celebrate Diwali, Jains celebrate a festival also called Diwali to mark the attainment of moksha by Mahavira,Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas to mark the release of Guru Hargobind from a Mughal Empire prison, and Newar Buddhists, unlike the majority of Buddhists, celebrate Diwali by worshipping Lakshmi.
Etymology and nomenclature
Diwali festivities include a celebration of sights, sounds, arts and flavors. The festivities vary between different regions.
Diwali (English:) or Sanskritdīpāvali means "series of lights", and is derived from dīpam "light, lamp" and oli "glow of light". Diwali is also known as dīpotsavam "festival of lights".
The holiday is known as dipawoli in Assamese: দীপাৱলী, dipaboli or dipali in Bengali: দীপাবলি/দীপালি, divāḷi in Gujarati: દિવાળી, divālī in Hindi: दिवाली, dīpavaḷi in Kannada: ದೀಪಾವಳಿ, Konkani: दिवाळी, Malayalam: ദീപാവലി, Marathi: दिवाळी, dipābali in Odia: ଦିପାବଳୀ, dīvālī in Punjabi: ਦੀਵਾਲੀ, diyārī in Sindhi: दियारी, tīpāvaḷi in Tamil: தீபாவளி, and Telugu: దీపావళి, Galungan in Balinese and Swanti in Nepali: स्वन्ति or tihar in Nepali: तिहार and Thudar Parba in Tulu: ತುಡರ್ ಪರ್ಬ.
Diwali dates back to ancient times in India, as a festival after the summer harvest in the Hindu calendar month of Kartika. The festival is mentioned in Sanskrit texts such as the Padma Purana, the Skanda Purana both completed in second half of 1st millennium AD but believed to have been expanded from a core text from an earlier era. The diyas (lamps) are mentioned in Skanda Purana to symbolically represent parts of the sun, the cosmic giver of light and energy to all life, who seasonally transitions in the Hindu calendar month of Kartik.
Hindus in some regions of India associate Diwali with the legend of Yama and Nachiketa on Kartika amavasya (Diwali night). The Nachiketa story about right versus wrong, true wealth versus transient wealth, knowledge versus ignorance is recorded in Katha Upanishad composed in 1st millennium BC.
King Harsha in the 7th century Sanskrit play Nagananda mentions Deepavali as Deepapratipadutsava (Deepa = light, pratipada = first day, utsava = festival), where lamps were lit and newly engaged brides and grooms were given gifts.Rajasekhara referred to Deepavali as Dipamalika in his 9th century Kavyamimamsa, wherein he mentions the tradition of homes being whitewashed and oil lamps decorating homes, streets and markets in the night. The Persian traveller and historian Al Biruni, in his 11th century memoir on India, wrote of Deepavali being celebrated by Hindus on New Moon day of the month of Kartika.
Diwali is one of the happiest holidays in India and Nepal with significant preparations. People clean their homes and decorate them for the festivities. Diwali is one of the biggest shopping seasons in India and Nepal; people buy new clothes for themselves and their families, as well as gifts, appliances, kitchen utensils, even expensive items such as cars and gold jewellery. People also buy gifts for family members and friends which typically include sweets, dry fruits, and seasonal specialties depending on regional harvest and customs. It is also the period when children hear ancient stories, legends about battles between good and evil or light and darkness from their parents and elders. Girls and women go shopping and create rangoli and other creative patterns on floors, near doors and walkways. Youth and adults alike help with lighting and preparing for patakhe (fireworks).
There is significant variation in regional practices and rituals. Depending on the region, prayers are offered before one or more deities, with most common being Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth and prosperity. On Diwali night, fireworks light up the neighborhood skies. Later, family members and invited friends celebrate the night over food and sweets.
Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs and Newar Buddhists to mark different historical events and stories, but they all symbolise the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, hope over despair.
The mythical stories told for Diwali vary regionally and within the traditions of Hinduism. Yet, they all point to joy and the celebration of Diwali with lights to be a reminder of the importance of knowledge, self inquiry, self-improvement, knowing and seeking the good and the right path. It is a metaphor for resisting evil, for dispelling darkness and for compassion to others. Diwali is the celebration of this inner light over spiritual darkness, of knowledge over ignorance and right over wrong. It is a festive restatement of the Hindu belief that the good ultimately triumphs over evil.
The religious significance of Deepavali varies regionally within India, depending on the school of Hindu philosophy, regional, legends, and beliefs.
Hindus across the world celebrate Diwali in honor of the return of Lord Rama, wife Sita, brother Lakshmana and lord Hanuman to Ayodhya from exile of 14 years after Rama defeated Ravana. To honor and celebrate Lord Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman returning from Sri Lanka and to illuminate their path, villagers light Diyas to celebrate the triumph of good over evil. For some, Diwali also celebrates the return of Pandavas after 12 years of Vanvas and one year of "Agyatavas" in Mahabharata. Furthermore, Deepavali is linked to the celebration of Lakshmi, who is venerated amongst Hindus as the goddess of wealth and prosperity and is the wife of Lord Vishnu. The 5-day festival of Diwali begins on the day Goddess Lakshmi was born from the churning of cosmic ocean of milk by the Devas (gods) and the Asuras (demons); while the night of Diwali is the day Lakshmi chose Vishnu as her husband and they were married. Along with Lakshmi, devotees make offerings to Ganesha, who symbolizes ethical beginnings and fearless remover of obstacles; Saraswati, who embodies music, literature and learning and Kubera, who symbolizes book-keeping, treasury and wealth management. Other Hindus believe that Diwali is the day Vishnu came back to Lakshmi and their abode in the Vaikuntha; so those who worship Lakshmi receive the benefit of her good mood, and therefore are blessed with mental, physical and material wellbeing during the year ahead.
Hindus in India's eastern region, such as Odisha and West Bengal, worship the goddess Kali instead of Lakshmi, and call the festival Kali Puja. In India's Braj and north central regions, the god Krishna is recognized. People mark Mount Govardhan, and celebrate legends about Krishna. In other regions, the feast of Govardhan Puja (or Annakoot) is celebrated, with 56 or 108 different cuisines prepared, offered to Krishna, then shared and celebrated by the local community.
In West and certain Northern parts of India, the festival of Diwali marks the start of a new Hindu year.
Main article: Bandi Chhor Divas
Diwali for Sikhs marks the Bandi Chhor Divas, when Guru Har Gobind freed himself and some Hindu Rajahs, from the Gwalior Fort, from the prison of the Mughal emperor, Jahangir, and arrived at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Ever since then, Sikhs celebrate Bandi Choorh Divas, with the annual lighting up of Golden Temple, fireworks and other festivities. In the post-Guru Gobind Singh era, Sarbat Khalsa used to meet on Diwali and Baisakhi to discuss important issues concerning Sikh community.
Main article: Diwali (Jainism)
Diwali has special significance in Jainism. Mahavira, the last of the Tirthankar of this era, attained Nirvana on this day at Pavapuri on 15 October 527 BCE, on Kartik Krishna Amavasya. According to the Kalpasutra by AcharyaBhadrabahu, 3rd century BC, many gods were present there, illuminating the darkness. Therefore, Jains celebrate Diwali as a day of remembering Mahavira. On Diwali morning, Nirvan Ladoo is offered after praying to Mahavira in all Jain temples all across the world. Gautam Gandhar Swami, the chief disciple of Mahavira achieved omniscience(Kevala Gyan) later the same day.
The Newar people in Nepal, who are Buddhist and revere various deities in the Vajrayana tradition, celebrate the festival by worshipping Lakshmi. The Newar Buddhists in Nepalese valleys celebrate the Diwali festival over five days, in the same way and on the same days as the Hindu Diwali-Tihar festival. According to some scholars, this traditional celebration by Newar Buddhists in Nepal, involving Lakshmi and Vishnu during Diwali, reflects the freedom granted in the Mahayana Buddhism tradition to worship any deity for their worldly betterment.
Description and rituals
Diwali is a five-day festival in many regions of India, with Diwali night centering on the new moon – the darkest night – at the end of the Hindu lunar month of Ashvin and the start of the month of Kartika. In the Common Era calendar, Diwali typically falls towards the end of October, or first half of November each year. The darkest night of autumn lit with diyas, candles and lanterns, makes the festival of lights particularly memorable. Diwali is also a festival of sounds and sights with fireworks and rangoli designs; the festival is a major celebration of flavors with feasts and numerous mithai (sweets, desserts), as well as a festival of emotions where Diwali ritually brings family and friends together every year.
Rituals and preparations for Diwali begin days or weeks in advance. The festival formally begins two days before the night of Diwali, and ends two days thereafter. Each day has the following rituals and significance:
Dhanteras (Day 1)
Main article: Dhanteras
Dhanteras or Dhanatrayodashi (celebrated in Northern and Western part of India) starts off the five day festival. Starting days before and through Dhanteras, houses and business premises are cleaned, renovated and decorated. Women and children decorate entrances with Rangoli – creative colourful floor designs both inside and in the walkways of their homes or offices. Boys and men get busy with external lighting arrangements and completing all renovation work in progress. For some, the day celebrates the churning of cosmic ocean of milk between the forces of good and forces of evil; this day marks the birthday of Lakshmi – the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity, and the birthday of Dhanvantari – the God of Health and Healing. On the night of Dhanteras, diyas (lamps) are ritually kept burning all through the nights in honor of Lakshmi and Dhanvantari.
Dhanteras is also a major shopping day, particularly for gold or silver articles. Merchants, traders and retailers stock up, put articles on sale, and prepare for this day. Lakshmi Puja is performed in the evening. Some people decorate their shops, work place or items symbolizing their source of sustenance and prosperity.
Naraka Chaturdasi (Day 2)
Main article: Naraka Chaturdashi
Narak Chaturdasi is the second day of festivities, and is also called Choti Diwali. The Hindu literature narrates that the asura (demon) Narakasura was killed on this day by Krishna, Satyabhama and Kali. The day is celebrated by early morning religious rituals and festivities followed on. This day is commonly celebrated as Diwali in Tamil Nadu, Goa and Karnataka. Typically, house decoration and colourful floor patterns called rangoli are made on or before Narak Chaturdasi. Special bathing rituals such as a fragrant oil bath are held in some regions, followed by minor pujas. Women decorate their hands with henna designs. Families are also busy preparing homemade sweets for main Diwali.
Lakshmi Puja (Day 3)
Main article: Lakshmi Puja
The third day is the main festive day. People wear new clothes or their best outfits as the evening approaches. Then diyas are lit, pujas are offered to Lakshmi, and to one or more additional deities depending on the region of India; typically Ganesha, Saraswati, and Kubera. Lakshmi symbolises wealth and prosperity, and her blessings are invoked for a good year ahead.
Lakshmi is believed to roam the earth on Diwali night. On the evening of Diwali, people open their doors and windows to welcome Lakshmi, and place diya lights on their windowsills and balcony ledges to invite her in. On this day, the mothers who work hard all year, are recognized by the family and she is seen to embody a part of Lakshmi, the good fortune and prosperity of the household. Small earthenware lamps filled with oil are lighted and placed in rows by some Hindus along the parapets of temples and houses. Some set diyas adrift on rivers and streams. Important relationships and friendships are also recognized during the day, by visiting relatives and friends, exchanging gifts and sweets.
After the puja, people go outside and celebrate by lighting up patakhe (fireworks). The children enjoy sparklers and variety of small fireworks, while adults enjoy playing with ground chakra, Vishnu chakra, flowerpots (anaar), sutli bomb, chocolate bomb, rockets and bigger fireworks. The fireworks signify celebration of Diwali as well a way to chase away evil spirits. After fireworks, people head back to a family feast, conversations and mithai (sweets, desserts).
Padwa, Balipratipada (Day 4)
Main article: Balipratipada
The day after Diwali, is celebrated as Padwa. This day ritually celebrates the love and mutual devotion between the wife and husband. The husbands give thoughtful gifts, or elaborate ones to respective spouses. In many regions, newly married daughters with their husbands are invited for special meals. Sometimes brothers go and pick up their sisters from their in-laws home for this important day. The day is also a special day for the married couple, in a manner similar to anniversaries elsewhere in the world. The day after Diwali devotees perform Goverdhan puja in honor of Lord Krishna.
Diwali also marks the beginning of new year, in some parts of India, where the Hindu Vikram Samvat calendar is popular. Merchants and shopkeepers close out their old year, and start a new fiscal year with blessings from Lakshmi and other deities.
Bhai Duj, Bhaiya Dooji (Day 5)
Main article: Bhau-beej
The last day of the festival is called Bhai dooj (Brother's second) or Bhai tika in Nepal, where it is the major day of the festival. It celebrates the sister-brother loving relationship, in a spirit similar to Raksha Bandhan but with different rituals. The day ritually emphasizes the love and lifelong bond between siblings. It is a day when women and girls get together, perform a puja with prayers for the well being of their brothers, then return to a ritual of food-sharing, gift-giving and conversations. In historic times, this was a day in autumn when brothers would travel to meet their sisters, or bring over their sister's family to their village homes to celebrate their sister-brother bond with the bounty of seasonal harvests.
Festival of lights
The word Diwali means the row(avali) of clay lamps(deepas) which symbolizes the lighting that protect us from spiritual darkness, achieving knowledge from ignorance, love from hatred. They decorate their entire home with oil lamps, earthen lamps, candles, lights throughout the day into the night to prevent darkness and evil.
The first thing that strikes our mind is crackers, lightings, colours in the dark new moon night sky.
Festival of peace
On this festive occasion, Hindu, Jain and Sikh communities also mark charitable causes, kindness, and for peace. For example, at the international border, every year on Diwali, Indian forces approach Pakistani forces and offer traditional Indian sweets on the occasion of Diwali. The Pakistani soldiers anticipating the gesture, return the goodwill with an assortment of Pakistani sweets.