From everyone here at WeAreTheCity, we would like to wish you a happy Diwali!
Diwali, beginning today, is a five-day festival celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world.
The festival, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an ancient Hindu festival symbolising new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness.
During the festival, Hindus celebrate the homecoming of deities Rama and Sita after fourteen years in exile, having been banished with Rama’s brother by his stepmother. While exiled, Rama’s wife was captured by the 10-headed king of demons, Ravana. After battling to save her, they both return home and ever since, people light lamps at Diwali to remember that light triumphs over darkness and good triumphs over evil.
Traditionally, Sikhs celebrate Bandi Shor Divas (often translated as Prisoner Release Day) in honour of the sixth guru Hargobind Singh being released from prison in 1619.
The founder of Jainism is Lord Mahavira. During Diwali, Jains celebrate his teachings and contributions not only to the religion but to greater humanity. Each year, Jains light lamps to symbolise keeping the light of his knowledge alive. Sweets are distributed in celebration of his contributions.
Diwali also marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year and is held in honour of Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity. For many, it signifies the start of the new financial year. On Diwali night, many offer prayers to Ganesh, the god representing good fortune and wisdom for the coming year.
The five-day festival features different ceremonies each day, with the third day being the main event. During the five days, people visit their relatives, have feasts, light oil lamps and celebrate the occasion with fireworks.
As the ceremony comes to a close, sweet offerings are placed in front of the deities, and clay lamps. They are known as diyas, and are placed inside homes and outdoors. The aim is to attract Lakshmi’s attention and guide her towards the light to bestow blessings and prosperity for the year ahead.
The five days of Diwali are celebrated as follows:
- Dhanteras | Friday 10th November 2023: The first day of Diwali is Dhanteras. It involves cleaning and decorating homes, and people light oil lamps or diyas to welcome prosperity and wealth.
- Naraka Chaturdashi / Choti Diwali | Saturday 11th November 2023: The second day is Naraka Chaturdashi, also known as Choti Diwali. It commemorates the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon Narakasura. People take oil baths, burst firecrackers, and decorate their homes.
- Diwali / Deepavali | Sunday 12th November 2023: The third day is the main Diwali festival, which involves the lighting of lamps and candles to symbolize the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil. People exchange gifts, visit friends and family, and enjoy festive meals.
- Govardhan Puja | Tuesday 14th November 2023: The fourth day is known as Govardhan Puja or Annakut. It commemorates Lord Krishna’s lifting of the Govardhan Hill to protect the residents of Vrindavan from rain. Devotees create a mound of food (annakut) to symbolize the hill.
- Bhai Dooj | Wednesday 15th November 2023: The fifth and final day of Diwali is Bhai Dooj. It is a celebration of the bond between brothers and sisters. Sisters perform aarti for their brothers, apply a tilak on their foreheads, and exchange gifts as a sign of love and protection.
Next year, 2024, Diwali will take place around 31st October.
From everyone at WeAreTheCity, we wish you a happy Diwali!