Diwali, the Festival of Lights Ushering in Global Harmony
Diwali, also known as Deepavali, the festival of lights, is a pan India festival. The essence of Diwali is the celebration of the victory of good over evil, when Lord Rama (An incarnation of Lord Vishnu) returned to Ayodhya after having killed the evil Demon King of Lanka, Ravana. Diwali brings along with it the promise of better times to come which would resound with health and prosperity all around.
Celebrated by Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, and every other religion existing in India, this is the most secular of all festivals, when people of every religion come together, forgetting their differences of culture, and bond to magnify the essence of unity in diversity. The celebration of Diwali across the communities in India is spectacular and Diwali indeed dispels the darkness of ignorance every year when people, irrespective of their caste, creed, economic background, and age, come to together and celebrate it with great fervor.
Some Unique Celebrations in India
- In West Bengal Diwali is celebrated to mark the killing of Shumbh and Nishumbh, the two evil demon kings by Ma Kali ( A form of Goddess Shakti). There are also pujas conducted by Agambagish, the most revered Tantriks (Priests who apply cosmic sciences with a view to attaining spiritual ascendancy).
- In Tamil Nadu, it is believed that anyone who takes an oil bath on this day will earn the credit of taking a dip in the Holy Ganges; People greet each other with the words “Ganga Snanam Aacha”.
- In Sindh, Diwali is known as Diyari and the Sindhis wash gold and silver coins in milk and then tap it on the teeth chanting “ Lakshmi Aayi, Danat Vaai”, meaning with the arrival of Lakshmi poverty has gone away.
- In North India, Bali Pratipada is observed on the third day of Diwali. It is believed that Lord Vishnu in his incarnation as Vamana had banished the demon king Bali ( the grandson of Prahalad) to the nether world. However pleased with Bali’s devotion towards Him, Lord Vishnu allowed Bali to visit the world once a year which is on the third day of Diwali.
- In Odisha Diwali is celebrated as Kauriya Kathi when the people burn jute sticks to help the ancestors, residing in heaven, descend to earth for a day on Diwali.
- For the Jains, Diwali marks the anniversary of the liberation of Mahaveera, the 24th and last Tirthankara of the present cosmic age as per Jainism.
- Diwali is a very important occasion for the Sikhs, for it is believed that it was during this time that Guru Hargobind Ji was released in 1619 AD from the Gwalior fort along with 52 other Kings. The Sikhs celebrate Diwali as the Bandhi Chor Diwas with great fervor.
- Muslims, Christians, Parsis and every other religion celebrate this festival along with the Hindus in India and abroad.
Diwali around the Globe
The growing ethnic and cultural diversity of the Hindu religion sees Diwali being celebrated across the globe till places as remote as the South of America. Guyana, Fiji, Malaysia, Nepal, Mauritius, Myanmar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Britain, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Africa, and Australia see Diwali being celebrated with great fanfare. Diwali abroad is more about family bonding, reflecting on the deeds in the past and envisioning a future devoid of ignorance and full of peace and harmony.
- Diwali is known as Tihar in Nepal, and just like India, it is a 5-day festival full of lights and firecrackers. The unique feature of Diwali in Nepal is that on the first day the crows and ravens are worshipped because it is believed that the cawing of these birds brings in bad luck and feeding and worshipping them will avert the bad luck; on the second day dogs are worshipped to cherish the relationship of love, trust, and loyalty that they share with human beings.
- The beautiful island of Triolet in Mauritius, with a predominant population of Hindus, celebrates Diwali just like in India with firecrackers, brightly lit homes, and visiting friends and family.
- Singapore’s Little India looks spectacular with festive lights and colorful arches during Diwali. There are open-air concerts, and a special market full of goodies is held during the week of Diwali.
- The small South American country of Guyana has been celebrating Diwali since 1853 with the traditional exchange of sweets, visiting family and friends, illuminating the homes with colorful lights. The unique part of the celebrations in Guyana includes the celebratory motorcades in different cities where vehicles decked in lights are taken out in a procession. Thousands of people gather to watch the motorcades.
- Leicester, England, celebrates Diwali with the switching on of the festive lights on the main road. This stretch of the road is known as the Golden Mile. There are daytime festivities too with dancing, different kinds of workshops and the famous 110-foot “ wheel of light” ride.
- Ontario in Canada celebrates Diwali from mid-October till November. Brampton, however, celebrates in the most spectacular manner. A three-day festival is held in Bramalea City Centre with gastronomic delights, dance competitions, and firework displays.
- Bali in Indonesia celebrates Diwali just like India. There are fireworks, illuminated homes and this time is used to bond with family and friends.
- Malaysia, where one sees a harmonious multi-ethnic mix of Malays, Hindus constitute 8% of the population. The Malaysians call Diwali Hari Diwali and celebrate with great fervor.
- Diwali is also celebrated by the Indians in South Africa and Trinidad & Tobago,
Time for Peace & Harmony
Diwali stands for the victory of good over evil and dispels the darkness of ignorance. Festivals of Diwali help in erasing economic, racial and cultural differences, thus helping in bringing in peace and harmony. Here is to wishing everyone a very Happy Diwali. Maps of India wishes you health, wealth and prosperity.
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