Diwali Date 2023
Dhanteras or Dhantrayodhi: November 10
Diwali 2023: November 12
Govardhan Puja 2023: November 13
Bhai Dooj 2023: November 14
Why is Diwali Celebrated?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.
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. In South India, this day is known as Naraka Chaturdasi.
- The third day is the main Diwali day which involves worshipping Goddess Lakshmi to rejoice her birth from Samudra Manthan. In West Bengali, Odisha and Assam, this day is also celebrated as Kali Puja.
- 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. In Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, people celebrate this day Bali Pratipada or Bali Padyami.
- The fifth day of Diwali is known as Bhai Dooj which celebrates the love and bond of brothers and sisters.
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 oneâ€™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 IndiaThe 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.
VaranasiIn 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.
JaipurJaipur 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.
New DelhiThe 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.
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.
ChennaiIn 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.
Diwali in Various ReligionsDiwali 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.
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.
Celebrate an Eco-Friendly Diwali
Even though Diwali is a major festival celebrated with gaiety and loved by everyone, there are growing concerns over environmental pollution and the safety involved. Bursting firecracker lead to an excessive increase in the particulate matter in the atmosphere contributing to serious health issues in people. Here are some tips and ideas for celebrating and eco-friendly Diwali -
- Stay away from bursting crackers. Alternatively, opt for eco-friendly crackers made from recycled paper.
- Instead of electrified lamps and lights made from plastic, opt for earthen diyas (lamps) to spread light and positivity.
- Use natural and organic colours and fresh flowers for making rangolis.
- The joy of Diwali is usually spread by exchanging gifts. This year, go organic by gifting your friends and family organic products, free from plastic.
Safety Tips for Diwali
- While bursting crackers, keep a fire extinguisher, or a bucket of sand and water nearby.
- Do not wear synthetic fabrics while bursting crackers on Diwali as they catch fire easily. Wearing fitted cotton clothes is recommended.
- Buy crackers from reliable and licensed sellers.
- Avoid using matches and lighters for bursting crackers.
- Do not light a cracker in your hand.
- Park your vehicles in a garage and away from the cracker bursting area.
- Avoid burning firecrackers as they are harmful to the environment.
- In case of a minor burn, pour water and apply aloe vera gel. In case of major burns, remove the burnt cloth immediately and wrap in a clean bedsheet. Rush the person to the hospital immediately.
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!