What is Diwali?
Diwali is known as the festival of lights because it marks the achievement of good over evil and light over the darkness.
In Hinduism, Lord Rama and his wife Sita returned to their kingdom in Ayodhya (Northern India) after they were exiled for 14 years in the forest. Ram's brother, Lakshman was there too. Whilst Ram was in exile his wife Sita Devi was kidnapped by the evil demon king Ravana, in the final year of their exile Lord Ram and Lakshman spent that year searching for Sita and defeating the demon Ravana.
As Lord Rama, Mother Sita and Lord Lakshman returned home to Ayodhia, the locals lit candles (divas), had fireworks and more to mark the successful return of the King of Ayodhya and guide them through the path of darkness into the light.
Diwali also pays homage to Lakshmi, goddess of wealth and prosperity. Some believe it falls on her birthday, also the date on which she married Lord Vishnu.
Diwali is globally known as the festival of lights. Every year around London we have beautiful lights going up, firework displays and more. A popular event that takes place is Diwali on Trafalgar Square where productions, music and traditional dance shows happen. It's one of the biggest Diwali events to take place in London every year,
35,000 people were expected to be there this year.
How long does the festival last?
5 days. Diwali is a 5-day festival that consists of various traditions that are carried forward within those 5 days.
Day 1: Dhanteras
Dhanteras, Dhan means wealth and teras means thirteen and this marks the 13th day of the fortnight of the month of Kartik and symbolises the beginning of Diwali. During Dhanteras, Hindu's clean their homes and business premises and install oil filled lamps known and divas near the idols(murtis) Mother Lakshmi an Lord Ganesh. Traditionally, men and women decorate their homes with colourful rangoli (coloured sand) with symbolic drawings of the tapestry or a past time or even a portrait of Hindu God's. This day also marks a major day for shopping for jewellery, fireworks, and more.
Day 2: Kali Chaudas
The second day of the festivities symbolises the day of dark energy and bad presence. Hindu's believe that on the eve of the second day of Diwali that prays are kept for peace and to prevent bad energies from surrounding you and bring in the light. It is also said to believe that on this day Mother Kali had killed the demon Narakasura.
Day 3: Diwali - Lakshmi Puja
On the third day of Diwali, the youngest members of the family visit the elders and gain their blessings for a healthier and happier life. Small business owners give gifts or bonuses to employees between the first day (Dhanteras) and Diwali.
Business owners perform a puja (ritual) in their offices or homes to bless the business for another successful year with the blessings of the Gods.
As the eve falls, families would change into their best and colourful outfits and dress up with jewellery. Family members would come together for the Lakshmi puja, here several deities are worshipped. After the Lakshmi Puja, families get together for lighting up the sky with beautiful fireworks and thereafter will share a feast along with delicious sweets that are hand-made just like our barfi's at Good News. These sweets are often given as gifts to families when visiting them over the Diwali period.
Day 4: New Years
Day 4 marks the beginning of the new year in the Hindu calendar. According to the Hindu Vedic calendar, they are in the year 2075 as of 2018. On this day, families traditionally go to their local temple and start of the year with the blessings of God and wishing all their loved ones a very happy and prosperous new year.
Day 5: Bhai Beej
Bhai Beej is the last day of the 5-day festival. It's a day where the bond between the brother and sister is shared. This is quite similar to Raksha Bandhan but this time it is the brother that travels to meet the sister and her family.