10 Facts you didn't know about Diwali
India 26 October 2016: Since the time of the greatest epic in Hindu mythology, Ramayana, Diwali (Deepawali) is celebrated throughout the whole India as a religious festival. It is also worldwide known as the festival of lights. And for children, it is the day of burning out firecrackers, enjoying the scintillating night, stealing a mouthful of sweets and sharing that with other friends. While some people enjoy it as a form of religion, some people enjoy it as a form of the holiday- an excuse to stay at bed for late, and so on. The amazing thing about Diwali (Deepawali) is that, people from all over the world celebrates this day differently with great enthusiasm, which makes this festival even more fun and exciting. So this Diwali, let us enlighten you with some interesting facts associated with Diwali (Deepawali) which you might not know:
1. Relevance to Ramayana and Mahabharata– Almost everyone knows the origin of this festival– it is marked as the day when Lord Rama returned to his kingdom. But recently, through Google maps, it has been found out that it takes 21 days to travel from Srilanka to Ayodhya. Shockingly the gap between Dassera and Diwali is exactly 21 days. It proves that Ramayana epic may not be just a story after all! Many believers also see Diwali as the return of Pandavas from 12 years of exile and one year of Agyatavas.
2. Sanskrit origin– The word ‘Diwali’ has been derived from the actual Sanskrit word ‘Deepavali’. This means a row of lights. That is why we decorate the house and other places with lights on the day of Diwali. It has different importance too. It is believed to be a significance of killing all evil powers around us and enhancing us with the brightness.
3. A new year! – Diwali is part of Hindu religion, but people in different parts of India celebrates it with different significance and meaning. For Marwaris, it is seen as the beginning of a new year. With lightening up ‘Diyas’, they celebrate the day paying off debts and decorate their cars and shops with flowers. They invite other people to celebrate the day together by exchanging cloth, sweets and different kinds of sweets. Not only that, it starts with Dhanteras, then Narak Chaturdashi ( Choti Diwali), Amavasya (Diwali), parehwah and Bhai Dooj.
4. The worship of Goddess Kali– While in the far eastern part of India, specially in West Bengal, Diwali is celebrated by worshipping the goddess Kali and cleaning and renovating their houses. Kali is the symbol of conquering evils, and people worship her in order to kill all evils and other bad influences. But in rest of the country, Diwali is mostly celebrated as worshipping Goddess Laxmi or Goddess Ganesha mainly.
5. Significance in Jainism– Jainism is not strictly Hinduism, but they follow the festival of lights too. In their version, on the day of Diwali, Mahavira attained Moksha and thus the evolvement of Jain religion. They represent the day Diwali by Kartika Chaturdashi. And their way of celebration differs from other people. Their celebration includes many serious kinds of worshipping.
6. Significance for Sikhs– Diwali is of great significance to not only Hindus but for Sikhs as well. For them, it is the day of Bandi Chhor Divas. This was the day when Guru Har Gobind Singh freed himself and Hindu kings from captivity. King Jahangir imprisoned them at Fort Gwalior, and it was at the time of Diwali that Guru Har Gobind freed himself. On this day, Sikhs people celebrate this day as a day of freedom and decorate their houses with lights and firecrackers.
7. Worldwide, Diwali has some great importance– Diwali (Deepawali) is not only celebrated by Indian people but also celebrated by a lot of people worldwide. A large proportion of Hindus are scattered around the world, and it is believed that they have spread this festival worldwide. This year, many countries like the USA, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore, etc. are also celebrating Diwali by decorating the street by lights. With more understanding of Indian culture and global migration of people of Indian origin, the number of countries where Diwali/Deepavali is celebrated has been gradually increasing. While in some countries it is celebrated mainly by Indian expatriates, in others it is becoming part of the general local culture. In most of these countries, Diwali is celebrated on the same lines as described in this article with some minor variations. Some important variations are worth mentioning.
8. A way of Charity– Diwali, it is not only celebrated as the day of lights, but it has other significances too. Hindu, Jain and Sikh communities mark this day with charitable causes, kindness and for peace. For example, at the international border, Indian forces approach Pakistani forces and offer them traditional Indian sweets. By anticipating this gesture, they return their goodwill with an assortment of Pakistani sweets.
9. The Pandavas returned home on this day- Yes, as per the greatest Hindu epic, Mahabharata, it is believed that the Pandavas returned Hastinapur after the banishment of 12 years due their defeat in the game of dice. The people of Hastinapur celebrated this day by lighting up lamps and diyas.
10. The Dark side– Though Diwali (Deepawali) is celebrated as a day of killing evils, but day by day it has become one itself. With so many firecrackers, it has become the concerned point on environmental impact. Air pollution, sound pollution and burn injuries from fireworks are some of the major issues that comes with Diwali. Though there has been a ban on different firecrackers which multiplies the air pollution and sound pollution, that ban is not working properly, and people use those on a large scale even today.
Since time immemorial, Diwali (Deepawali) has been a part of Indian culture and day by day it is becoming a part of the culture in different regions of the world too. But in the craze of killing evils, we pollute our mother nature and harm many innocent animals too. That is not what Diwali is! So enjoy this day, but remember the limits always! Happy Diwali!