Diwali in India: All You Need To Know About Diwali 2020

Diwali is one of the most significant festivals in India. It is celebrated across the length and breadth of the nation with much fanfare and enthusiasm. Known as the "Festival of Lights", Diwali is a 5-day celebration, wherein friends and families get together, light 'Diyas' or earthen lamps in their houses, feast on sweet delicacies, exchange gifts, play games and burn crackers. The festival is celebrated on 'Amavasya' or no moon night and heralds the dawn of a New Year, according to the Hindu calendar. It is a harbinger of new beginnings as it is believed that Goddess Lakshmi pays a visit to the houses of devotees in the middle of the dark night, and blesses them with wealth and happiness. It is called the festival of lights because it symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, good over evil and hope over despair.

Diwali 2020 Dates

This year Diwali will be celebrated on November 14, 2020 (Sunday)

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History of Diwali

The history of Diwali can be traced back to ancient India. There are various legends about the origin of this festival. Some believe it to be the celebration of the marriage of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, with Lord Vishnu. Others believe it to be the birthday of Lakshmi. The most widespread belief is that Diwali celebrates the return of Lord Rama along with Goddess Sita and Lakshman from his 14-year-long exile to the kingdom of Ayodhya. To display the joy of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya illuminated the entire kingdom with earthen diyas, which gave birth to the festival of lights.  

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Diwali in Various Religions

Diwali is one of those Indian festivals that unify different religions, regions and cultures. The festival finds significance in Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism along with Hinduism. Hindus celebrate Diwali as the homecoming of Lord Rama to his hometown Ayodhya after defeating the Ravana, the Rakshasa King of Lanka after serving a 14 years exile in the forests. Jains celebrate the festival as the day when Mahavira, their last Tirthankara on earth, attained Nirvana or enlightenment. The Buddhists celebrate Diwali as the day when Emperor Ashoka converted himself to Buddhism. The Sikhs celebrate the festival to remember the homecoming of their Guru Har Gobind Ji from the prison of Emperor Jahangir along with numerous Hindu gurus.

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The Significance of 5 Days of Diwali

5 days of Diwali serve different occasions according to Hindu mythology. The first day of Diwali is Dhanteras which indicates the beginning of the new financial year for Hindus. The second day of Diwali is Chhoti Diwali which is celebrated to remember the victory of Lord Krishna over the devil king Naraka. The third day is the main Diwali day which involves worshipping Goddess Lakshmi to rejoice her birth from Samudra Manthan. The fourth day of Diwali is known as Govardhan Puja which is celebrated to venerate the triumph of Lord Vishnu over the demon king Bali as well as the victory of Lord Krishna over God Indra. The fifth and final day of Diwali is known as Bhai Dooj which celebrates the love and bond of brothers and sisters.

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Diwali Rituals: How is Diwali Celebrated in India?

Home Decorations: Diwali celebrations start with decorating the home. People often get their houses deep-cleaned in order to make it more aesthetic and pleasing. Decorations include lights, diyas and flowers. These symbolise lightness and success as they light-up the entire atmosphere and lift your spirits. A major part of this celebration is Rangoli making which are paintings made with colour at the entrance and courtyards of houses in order to welcome Goddess Laxmi. 

Fireworks: Bursting crackers on Diwali has been one of the key rituals of this festival since forever! Right from simple Phooljhadi to patatakas, to chaklis, you will find a range of crackers lighting up the sky. However, it is important to be aware of the environment, so make sure you do not burst too many! 

Laxmi Puja: This is one of the major rituals on Diwali when prayers are offered to Goddess Laxmi in lieu of a better year filled with wealth, peace and prosperity. This is done by lighting an oil lamp (diya) in front of the idol followed by prayers (aarti) that include hymns and chants dedicated to Lord Laxmi. Along with this, people clean the idol with gangajal or milk and water, apply haldi and kumkum, and offer flowers sweets and coconut to the goddess in order to receive her blessings.  

Shopping and Gifts: Perhaps the most exciting part of Diwali is Dhanteras, when people go shopping for their relatives and friends. Gifting one’s relatives is a huge tradition in India, especially on Diwali when families exchange presents as a way of wishing each other a year full of happiness and success. 

Feasts: Feasts are always an essential part of any Hindu festival. Having said that, it definitely is a major ritual on Diwali. Families often share sweets such as jalebis, laddus, Gujia, Kaju-kathli, kheer, halwas and barfis. Along with that, savoury snacks, cauliflower pakora or fritters, paneer makhani, samosa, puri and idli are served. 

Best Places to Experience Diwali Celebrations in India

The 5 days of Diwali also account for a long holiday period. This year, Diwali falls on a Thursday, making it an extended weekend. The occasion offers you an opportunity to witness Diwali celebrations in a different city in India. Although, the festival of lights is celebrated with great exuberance across the country, there are few places which are especially famous for their grand Diwali celebrations. 

Varanasi

In Varanasi, Diwali is an elaborate affair. A special Ganga Aarti takes place in the evening. The river is lit up with thousands of diyas floating over its surface. The environment is filled with the chants of the priests, singing prayers for Goddess Ganga and Lakshmi. The fireworks rarely stop and the Ghats reflect the beauty of a surreal world. It is a sight to behold, and one of the best Diwali experiences in India.

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Jaipur

Jaipur is a regal city itself. The city looks exquisitely beautiful and royal on the occasion of Diwali. The streets, homes and markets are lit up by sparkling lights, making the pink city a shimmering kaleidoscope of colours. The sky of Jaipur observes blinding fireworks and the markets serve traditional delicacies which leave people, licking their fingers.

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New Delhi

The capital of India, New Delhi, does not lag behind when it comes to celebrating Diwali. The markets and major buildings of the city are decorated gloriously and the streets display countless twinkling lights with happy faces all around. The weather becomes slightly chilly, making a perfect companion of the warm festival.

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Nothing beats Diwali than Kolkata's nostalgic streets. Goddess Kali is worshipped around the same time in Kolkata and the streets are lit up with lamps, diyas and candles. People celebrate Diwali days with family and friends, feasting, drinking and having an amiable time. Desserts are to look out for during this festive period.

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Chennai

In the southern part of India, Diwali is celebrated from the beginning of the day. People awake at the crack of dawn to have a traditional oil bath. The Puja takes place in the morning and bursting of crackers takes place entire day. Celebrations here usually wind up by evening.

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Diwali is not just celebrated in India, but various other parts of the world. Every year the White House observes the significance of this occasion, often cited as the "Indian's Christmas". Australia and New Zealand embrace the festival with a carnival including fairs, exorbitant performances and cultural shows. The festival is also celebrated in other corners of the world like Malaysia, Fiji, Singapore and Europe.

Make this Diwali truly memorable by experiencing the differing cultural celebrations across India. May this festival of lights bring everyone immense peace, prosperity, success, health and joy. Wishing you all a Happy Diwali!

This post was published by Shubham Jain

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