Diwali meaning: What does the word Diwali mean? The story of Diwali

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The festival usually takes place sometime between October and November, with the date changing every year. In 2020, it begins on Thursday, November 12, and will last for five days. The main day of celebrations is expected to take place on Saturday, November 14. Diwali is a Festival of Lights and is celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world.

What does the word Diwali mean?

The word Diwali comes from the Sanskrit word Deepavali.

Diwali’s five-day celebrations begin on the 13th day of the dark half of the lunar month Ashvina to the second day of the light half of the lunar month Karttika.

Deepavali means “rows of lighted lamps”, in reference to the fact Diwali celebrates all things lights. Houses, shops and public places are decorated with small oil lamps called divas.

In addition to the decorations, celebrators enjoy fireworks and sweets, making it very popular with children.

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For many people, this five-day festival honours the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi.

Lamps are lit and windows and doors are left open to help Lakshmi find her way into people’s homes.

Other ways Hindus celebrate the festival include:

  • Spring cleaning the home
  • Wearing new clothes
  • Exchanging gifts and preparing festival meals

In India, there are different ceremonies every day throughout the five-day celebration, with the third day being the main event.

The first day of Diwali, known ad Dhanteras, is dedicated to cleaning homes and buying small, gold items.

The second day, called Naraka Chaturdashi or Choti Diwali, commemorates Krishna’s destruction of Narakasura, and prayers are often offered for the souls of ancestors on this day.

Lakshmi Puja is the third day and sees families seek blessings from Lakshmi to ensure their prosperity and visit temples, and is the main day of the festival.

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The fourth day is Goverdhan Puja, Balipratipada or Annakut, and commemorates Krishna’s defeat of Indra, the god of gods, and is also the start of the New Year in the Vikrama (Hindu) calendar.

Bhai Dooj, Bhai Tika, or Bhai Bij is the fifth and last day and celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters, on which sisters pray for the success and well-being of their brothers.

Every region in India has distinctive traditions for commemorating Diwali.

But whatever the customs, there is an agreement Diwali represents the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness and wisdom over ignorance.

Diwali is linked to the ancient legend of Lord Rama who was deprived of his kingdom and sent into exile for 14 years.

Diwali celebrates Rama’s eventual defeat of the evil spirit Ravana and his triumphant return home.

Diwali also holds special significance for married couples and babies celebrating their first festival, as it gives both sides of the family a chance to come together.

The business community in India considers it an opportune time to begin new ventures, given that the festival coincides with the Hindu New Year.

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