India Diwali, also called the Festival of Light, is a very important celebration in India. It’s a special time when people light up their surroundings with beautiful lamps and celebrate with lots of excitement. Diwali represents the idea of light winning over darkness, so it’s a time for joy and brightness. If you’re interested in experiencing Diwali in India, here’s what you should know.
When is Diwali in 2023?
Diwali, the Festival of Light, starts on the fifteenth day of the Hindu month called Kartik. This day, known as Amavasya, happens in October or November. In 2023, Diwali will be on November 12, and everyone in the country will celebrate it for five days.
Origin of Diwali Festival
Diwali is a word that comes from the Sanskrit language, and it’s a very important festival in India. It’s a time when people celebrate the victory of good things over bad things and of light over darkness. Diwali has been celebrated for a very long time in India, and there are different stories about why it started. One of the stories is that it used to be a harvest festival, where people celebrated a good harvest.
There are different legends, or old stories, about how Diwali began. One story is about a hero named Rama, who rescued his wife Sita from an evil king named Ravana. When Rama and Sita came back to their home, people lit lots of lamps to welcome them and to show that they were happy. This is why lighting lamps is an important part of Diwali for Hindus.
Another story is about a goddess named Lakshmi, who is the goddess of wealth in India. People believe that on Diwali, Lakshmi visits houses, and if she sees a house that’s lit up and welcoming, she’ll bring good luck and riches to that house. So, people light up their homes with lamps to make sure Lakshmi notices their houses and brings them good fortune.
On the other hand, Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains have different reasons to celebrate Diwali. For Sikhs, it’s about commemorating the release of their spiritual leader Harbinder from captivity by Jatihan, the emperor of the Mughal Empire in India. During Diwali, Sikhs go to the Amritsar shrine to bathe in holy water. Over time, Diwali has become an important festival for Sikhs, with unique ways of celebrating it, and places like Amritsar have become special pilgrimage spots.
For Jains, Diwali is a festival to honor their founder, Mahavira. They believe that although Mahavira’s body has passed away, his soul continues to exist. The Jain tradition of lighting lamps started on the day of Mahavira’s nirvana in 527 B.C., when 18 kings gathered to receive his final teachings and lit lamps in his honor. Diwali for Jains, celebrated in various parts of India, also involves lighting lamps and offering prayers to Lakshmi.
What Include in Diwali Celebrations?
Here’s what is typically included in Diwali celebrations:
- Lighting Lamps and Candles: The most iconic aspect of Diwali is the illumination of homes and public spaces with oil lamps (diyas), candles, and decorative lights. This represents the triumph of light over darkness and the dispelling of ignorance.
- Fireworks: Fireworks displays are a common part of Diwali celebrations. People light fireworks to add to the festive atmosphere and create a spectacular visual display in the night sky.
- Rangoli: Intricate and colorful patterns made from colored powders, rice, or flower petals are created on the ground, typically at the entrance of homes. Rangoli is a symbol of welcoming guests and is considered an art form.
- Prayers and Worship: Families visit temples to offer prayers to deities, especially the goddess Lakshmi, who symbolizes wealth and prosperity. Religious rituals and pujas (worship ceremonies) are an essential part of Diwali.
- Exchange of Gifts: It is customary to exchange gifts and sweets with friends and family during Diwali. This symbolizes love and goodwill among relatives and friends.
- Cleaning and Decorating Homes: Before Diwali, homes are thoroughly cleaned and decorated with colorful decorations, flowers, and rangoli designs. It is believed that a clean and beautiful home invites good fortune.
- New Clothes: It’s customary to wear new clothes on Diwali, symbolizing the renewal of life and the shedding of negativity.
- Feasting: Diwali is a time for delicious feasts and sweets. Families prepare a variety of special dishes and sweets, like mithai (Indian sweets), to share with guests and loved ones.
- Crackers and Fireworks: As mentioned earlier, fireworks are a significant part of the celebrations. However, in recent years, there has been increasing awareness of environmental concerns, so some people are opting for eco-friendly alternatives to traditional fireworks.
- Visiting Friends and Family: Diwali is a time for family gatherings, and people often travel to be with their loved ones during the festival.
- Charitable Acts: Giving to the less fortunate is encouraged during Diwali. Many people donate to charities or provide food and gifts to those in need as an act of goodwill.
- Card Games and Gambling: In some regions, playing card games and gambling are part of the Diwali festivities, as it is believed to bring good luck and prosperity.
Diwali is Celebrated by Which Religion?
Diwali is a special celebration that many people from different religions observe. Even though they have different reasons for celebrating, they all come together to enjoy the Festival of Lights in their own way.
For example, Hindus celebrate Diwali to remember the victory of good over evil and to ask the goddess Lakshmi for good luck. Jains celebrate it to honor their gods’ enlightenment and the goal of freeing people from ignorance. Sikhs celebrate Diwali to mark the return of their leader, Guru Hargobind. Some Buddhists celebrate it because of Ashoka’s decision to follow Buddhism and promote peace.
So, these religions all celebrate Diwali for different historical reasons, but they share common themes of justice, peace, and happiness. It’s a beautiful blending of cultures, and you can see people from various religions and regions celebrating Diwali together in a joyful atmosphere.
Where to Experience Diwali in India?
Varanasi is a special place for Hindus and has a lot of history. When the Festival of Light happens, the city becomes even more beautiful than usual. You can take a boat ride on the Ganges River at sunset and see people praying along the riverbank. There are also busy markets where you can buy local crafts and tasty sweets. The celebration ends with a big fireworks show, so it’s a good idea to stay in a tall hotel near the river to get a close-up view of the fireworks. Dev Deepavali, also called the “Diwali of the Gods,” happens in Varanasi during the Ganga Mahotsav Festival, so if you stay a bit longer, you can experience it.
If you want to have a great time at a festival with lots of lights and get to know Indian culture, you should go to Delhi, the capital city. There are busy marketplaces, fun fairs, fireworks, plays, music shows, and dances that will make you feel excited and happy. You can also see and take part in the special Diwali celebrations and prayers, meet Indian families, and try some delicious food during the Festival of Light.
Amritsar is a city where many Sikhs live. Diwali is a special festival celebrated by both Hindus and Sikhs. Diwali is very important to Sikhs. The Golden Temple in Amritsar is a famous place to visit in the city. It looks beautiful during Diwali with lots of lights. People come to the temple at night to celebrate Diwali. You can also see amazing fireworks in Amritsar or join people in meditation and prayer during Diwali.
Amritsar is a city where many Sikhs live. Jaipur is a really great place to go and see the exciting atmosphere during a special festival called Diwali. During Diwali, the houses and shops in Jaipur are decorated with beautiful lights and decorations that make the city look very pretty. One of the best places to see all this beauty is from a famous fort in Jaipur called Nahargarh Fort. From there, you can see the sparkling Jal Mahal and fireworks at the beautiful Man Sagar Lake.
In addition to the pretty lights and fireworks, the streets in Jaipur are always busy with musicians playing traditional songs, and there are many handmade lamps and other things to buy. You can also try some delicious food from Rajasthan and buy some special gifts and crafts.
Tips During Travel to India in Diwali Festival
- If you want to go to India for the Festival of Light, it’s best to book your stay a few months ahead because many people from all over the world will be going there.
- When you light fireworks, be careful and do it safely. Follow the instructions, and make sure it’s allowed in the area you’re in.
- Don’t put lights in places that could be dangerous and might hurt you.
- Don’t wear clothes made of fake materials. Stick to cotton because fake materials can easily catch fire.
- If you want to take pictures of people praying or doing religious things in temples, always ask for permission first.
Join in the big celebration in India, and you’ll have amazing memories of the special Diwali festivities. If you want to plan an India trip for Diwali, get in touch with us to make it just the way you want it!