Deepavali Festival

Deepavali is a significant festival in Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism, and an official holiday in India. Adherents of these religions celebrate Diwali as the Festival of Lights. They light diyas cotton-like string wicks inserted in small clay pots filled with coconut oil to signify victory of good over the evil within an individual.

The five day festival of Diwali occurs on the new moon between October 13 and November 14. On the Hindu calendar it is centered on the new moon day that ends the month of Asvina and begins the month of Kartika, beginning on the 13th day of the dark half of Asvina (Asvina 28th) and ending on the 2nd day of the bright half of Kartika (Kartika 2nd). The main day of celebration varies regionally.

In Hinduism, across many parts of India and Nepal, it is the homecoming of Rama after a 14-year exile in the forest and his victory over the Ravana In the legend, the people of Ayodhya (the capital of his kingdom) welcomed Rama by lighting rows (avali) of lamps (dipa), thus its name:dipawali. Over time, this word transformed into Diwali in Hindi and Dipawali in Nepali, but still retained its original form in South and East Indian Languages.

In Jainism, Diwali marks the attainment of nirvana by Mahavira on 15 October, 527 BC. Diwali has been significant in Sikhism since the illumination of the town of Amritsar commemorating the return of Guru Har Gobind Ji (1595-1644), the sixth Guru of Sikhism, who was imprisoned along with 53 other Hindu kings at Fort Gwalior by Emperor Jahangir. After freeing the other prisoners, he went to the Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) in the holy city of Amritsar, where he was welcomed happily by the people who lit candles and divas to greet the Guru. Because of this, Sikhs often refer to Diwali also as Bandi Chhorh Divas - "the day of release of detainees."

The festival is also celebrated by Buddhists in Nepal, a majority-Hindu country, particularly the Newar Buddhists.

In India and Nepal, Diwali is now considered to be a national festival, and the aesthetic aspect of the festival is enjoyed by most Indians and Nepalese regardless of faith.

Oil lamps on the eve of Divali.

Dipavali means a row of lamps (Sanskrit dipa = lamp and awali = row, line). In many modern languages, the popular name has shortened to DÄ«vali, especially in northern India.


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