Diwali 2021: History and significance of the Festival of Lights

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Diwali 2021: Also known as Deepawali, is the Hindu festival of lights which is celebrated by Indians all over the globe.

Diwali, also known as Deepawali, is the Hindu festival of lights which is celebrated by Indians all over the globe. Deepavali, which translates as ‘a row of lights’ is one of the most significant of all Hindu festivals and is celebrated over a period of 5 days. It is observed on the 15th day of the month of Kartika and in accordance with the Hindu lunar calendar, this month is considered the holiest. This year, Diwali 2021 will be celebrated on November 04.

It’s a Festival that illuminates the Earth as well as the Skies and brings joy abound on this world. It is a festival when the whole of India transcends into a land of myriad lamps. Deepavali or Diwali, the Festival of Lights has all the charm, grandeur and splendour that can even illuminate our minds and hearts while also promoting the much needed peace, harmony and brotherhood in the society. It is a Festival that unifies every religion, every home and every heart.

The festival of Deepavali 2021 has a deep spiritual meaning, it essentially means the Awareness of the Inner Light. In a way it is the celebration of the awakening and awareness of the Inner Light which has the power to outshine darkness and clear all obstacles in life.

Deepavali 2021 literally means a row or array of lights. Celebrated on the thirteenth/ fourteenth day in the dark half of the Kartika Masa (October – November), it is a celebration of light despite being the darkest night of the darkest period. As every festival in India even the Festival of Deepavali has its own inner significance than mere lighting diyas, wearing new clothes, exchanging sweets and bursting crackers.

Diwali’s essence lies in the sloka, ‘Tamaso ma jyotirgamaya’ which means “ Lead me from darkness to light.” Similarly, we have to light the lamp of happiness, the lamp of prosperity and the lamp of knowledge to dispel sorrow, poverty as well as disease.

Diwali 2021 or Deepawali 2021: History and significance

Diwali 2021 is not only significant because of its massive popularity and brilliant displays of fireworks but also because it symbolises the victory of light over darkness, of good over evil and of knowledge over ignorance. On this day, diyas, candles and lamps are placed all around the house, to ‘light’ the way to knowledge and victory. Each house is decorated with various assortments of coloured lights and diyas. The entire country is bathed in the soft glow of light and warmth emanating from every household, making it a truly wondrous sight to behold.

The celebration of Diwali also serves as a cleansing ritual, one that signifies letting go of all of the past year’s worries and troubles and stepping into the light. In the days leading up to Diwali, families get together to clean, renovate and decorate their respective households and workplaces with rangolis and diyas. Diwali marks the onset of winter and the beginning of all things new, both in nature and humanity.

On this day, celebrants dress themselves their finest, brand new clothing and offer prayers to the various Gods and Goddesses, according to their own familial traditions.

History Diwali 2021

The celebration of Diwali can find its roots in ancient India and it is likely that it began as a significant harvest festival. And as with many Hindu festivals, the origins of Diwali differ from region to region, which can be vastly attributed to the culture of stories and legends being passed down through generations through the spoken word.

Some are of the belief that Diwali is the celebration of Goddess Laxmi’s marriage to Lord Vishnu. Some even consider this day as the auspicious occasion of her birthday, as it is a popular belief that she was born in the month of Kartika on a new moon (Amavasya).

In certain regions, like Bengal, this festival is dedicated to Goddess Kali, the dark Goddess of strength. In other regions, devotees offer prayers to the elephant-headed God, Lord Ganesh. But in all mythology and history, Diwali marks the day that Lord Rama returned to Ayodhaya, after being in exile for 14 long years, to reclaim his throne and fulfil his duty. His return is all the more significant due to his victory over the demon king Ravana. It was in celebration of their King’s return, that the people of Ayodhya illuminated the kingdom with diyas, to light his way home.

Five days of celebration

Each of the five days of Diwali 2021 have their own significance and designation, where the first day – Naraka Chaturdasi marks the defeat of the demon Naraka at the hands of Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama.

On the second day – Amavasya, devotees pray to the Goddess Laxmi, as many believe that she is in a most benevolent moon during this period and often grants wishes to her followers. On Amavasya, people also narrate the story of Lord Vishnu, who took on the incarnation of a dwarf and banished Bali to hell. Only during the festival of lights is Bali permitted to roam the world again, to spread Lord Vishnu’s message of love, compassion and knowledge, and also light diyas along the way.

The third day – Kartika Shudda Padyami, Bali steps out of Hell and rules the earth as per the boons given to him by Lord Vishnu. The fourth day – Yama Dvitiya, also known as Bhai Dooj, is observed, and is associated with sisters inviting their brothers into their home.

The fifth day – Dhanteras, is a celebration of wealth and prosperity. It is celebrated two days before Diwali and people around the world try their hand at gambling as it is considered that with Goddess Parvati’s blessing, whoever gambles on this day will be showered with prosperity throughout the coming year. According to legend, Goddess Parvati played dice with her husband, Lord Shiva, on this day.

In addition to all the fun, gambling and firecrackers surrounding the celebration of Diwali, it is an inherently philosophical festival. One that places great significance on the ‘light’ and the prevalence of good over evil. This Diwali lets us pray to the Gods for guidance and patience during the Covid-19 pandemic. Have a happy and safe Diwali.

One of the legends associated with Diwali that Lord Krishna killed demon Narakasura to free the Gopikas, in a way signifies that we have to fight the evil or demonic forces within us by following the path of righteousness.

The festival of Diwali reminds each one of us to understand that life is much more than a mere journey and it s a continuous quest for truth and knowledge.

Unity in Diversity : The legends regarding Diwali also highlight the philosophical truth of the Vedas. The Festival of Diwali 2021 binds people and is a synthesis of spirituality, religion, culture and social values.

In Northern India, people celebrate the Festival of Lights to mark the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya along with Seeta and brother Lakshman after a 14 year exile. While in South India it signifies the victory of Lord Krishna over demon Narakasura. Ultimately both remind us of the necessity to destroy evil forces and strengthen divine forces.

In Western India, Diwali is associated with the legend which states that on this day Lord Vishnu in his 5th incarnation as Vamana, had rescued Lakshmi from the prison of King Bali. This is another reason behind worshipping and invoking Goddess Lakshmi during Diwali.

As per a legend from the epic Mahabharata, it was Karthik Amavasya when the Pancha Pandavas returned from their 12 years of exile. It is said the people who loved the Pandavas celebrated the day by lighting thousands of earthen lamps and distributing sweets.

History says the greatest Hindu king Vikramaditya was coronated on the day of Diwali, which also makes the festival historic and not merely mythological.

The Festival of Diwali is also of great significance to Jains as it is said it was on this day that Lord Mahaveera attained Nirvana or eternal bliss.

Read about Chhath Pooja

The Sikhs too have a reason to celebrate Diwali. History says that it was on this auspicious day that Guru Hargobind, the Sixth Sikh Guru was freed from captivity of Jahangir, the Mughal Emperor. Sikhs also celebrate Diwali to commemorate the laying of the foundation stone for the Golden Temple in 1577.

Sweet Temptations : Diwali 2021 is that Festival when sweets continue to tempt us throughout. If there is one festival which boasts of loads and loads of sweets, then it is undoubedly Deepavali which is just incomplete with sweets. Sweet boxes are generously exchanged among friends and relatives, in a way contributing towards harmonious co-existence.

In the modern day world, Diwali 2021 celebrations are not just confined to India, but is celebrated by Indians across the globe with the same festive spirit. It helps in fostering a sense of brotherhood as it encourages people to come together and celebrate the festival regardless of their background.

The Divine light burns within us and all around us. Let this Diwali 2021 bring joy and happiness abound for humanity by dispelling the darkness of ignorance and many more evils that are creating havoc on mankind.

Let the Lights of Happiness spread across the globe.

It is all about discovering the knowledge of our infinite potential and dispelling ignorance. Diwali is also resplendent of the dawn of knowledge through the inner light, that is the enlightenment of the soul.

The Spiritual Factor : As per the Vedanta, every devout Hindu has to fill his heart with the oil of love, light the wick with the knowledge of Truth and ward off ignorance. It further states that we can kindle light in many hearts just like A Diya which can light many Diyas.

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