Diwali is a festival that is celebrated with a lot of heart and revelry by people across India. Although if one takes a cursory look at this festival, it can easily be categorized as a Hindu festival, but if one looks a little more deeply, one can easily see that celebrations of this festival transcend the boundaries of caste and creed. This festival of lights is celebrated with tremendous zeal and devotion by people of all age groups as well as social and economic standing. The scale of celebrations can vary from downright ostentatiously extravagant to gracefully simple. To mark the occasion, people start cleaning and renovating their houses days, sometimes even a month, before the festival. On the day of Diwali, scores of diyas, candles and multicolored light bulbs illuminate the moonless night, presenting a bedazzling spectacle of color, light, vibrancy and exuberance that enthralls one and all.
Diwali festivities are not just confined to one day celebrations, but span over a period of five days that commence as per the auspicious Hindu calendar at the end of the Ashwin month, which usually falls between September and October as per the Georgian calendar, and culminate in beginning of the month of Kartika, which denotes to the time between October and November as per the western date calculation system. The dates are further elucidated as the days in Ashwin fall under the category of the ‘dark fortnight’ known as the Krishna Paksha of that month, whereas the days in the month of Kartik fall under the category of Shukla Paksha, i.e. ‘bright fortnight’. The first day of Diwali festivities is known as Dhanteras, celebrated traditionally as the beginning of the new financial year by most business communities in India. This day is considered very favorable for financial investments and buying gold and silver items. Purchasing household utensils is also a part of the customs and traditions of Dhanteras.
The second day of Diwali festivities is traditionally known as Naraka Chaturdasi, and popularly known as Chhoti Diwali among the masses, especially in Northern India. The day is celebrated to commemorate the occasion of vanquishment of demon, named Narkasura, at the hands of Lord Krishna and his beloved wife Satyabhama. This day seems like a dress rehearsal for the coming festival of Deepavali as on this day too, houses are illuminated and firecrackers are burst but on a much smaller scale. The third day of festivities, which is an Amavasya, is marked by the celebration of Badi Diwali or Deepavali. The day sees the festivities reaching to their zenith, with ostentatious decorations and devotional fervor. On Deepavali, Goddess Laxmi, bestower of wealth and prosperity, is worshipped across India in all Hindu households. It is believed that she visits the homes of her devotees on this day; thus, houses are kept skip and spam.
The fourth day is known as Kartika Shudda Padyami. On this day, the ritual of Govardhan Puja is performed with great devotion, especially in parts of North India. Govardhan is a hillock located in Braj near Mathura and as per legend related to it, it was picked up by Lord Krishna and used as an umbrella in order to protect the villagers from heavy rainfall. Devotees, who can visit this site, perform puja of the original hillock, whereas, those who cannot, make small hillocks of cow dung and worship them. The Diwali revelry comes to an end on the fifth day with the celebration of Bhai Dooj. This festival, like Raksha Bandhan, celebrates the unbreakable bond of love and affection between a brother and sister. The festival of Diwali not just celebrates the victory of good over evil but also teaches us to value our each and every relationship.
Diwali Date Calendar
Diwali 2013: Sunday, November 3
Diwali 2014: Thursday, October 23
Diwali 2015: Wednesday, November 11