Akinpelu Babatola
Guest Writer

Deepavali (also known as Diwali) is also called the Festival of Lights. It is celebrated majorly by Hindus, but other religions, such as Sikhism and Jainism, also celebrate the festival.

The celebration of Deepavali usually starts on the darkest day in the month of Aipasi, and the festival can last for five days. This usually puts in either mid-October or mid-November. Deepavali will be celebrated on the 14th of November this year.

But what is Deepavali exactly and how is it celebrated? Well, that’s our business for today.

Let’s get to it.

Origins of Deepavali.

There are many stories about Deepavali, each talking about a different origin for the festival. Regardless, all the stories agree on thing. Deepavali is a day to celebrate the forces of good triumphing over evil.

For North Indians and the Hindu community of Malaysia, it is a celebration of the return of Lord Rama with Sita, his wife and Lakshmana his brother, after his 14-year exile from the kingdom. Upon defeating Ravana, the demon, Lord Rama returned to the throne, and Deepavali marks his glorious return.

To celebrate this, they light up clay lamps in their homes and firecrackers in the sky.

The South Indians tell a different story. For them, Deepavali celebrates Lord Krishna’s defeat of Naraka, the demon king. Deepavali is the day the demon king was defeated; Naraka’s Chathurdasi or Naraka’s 14th day.

Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and beauty, is also related to Deepavali. It is believed that she visits tidy and well-lit houses, bringing them wealth and good fortune. This is why tidying up, and lighting lamps in the house is so vital to Deepavali.  

How is Deepavali celebrated?

Learning about the origin of the festival isn’t enough. You have to know how it is celebrated, so you can join in if invited. After all without proper education, you can’t partake in such events.

As I already mentioned, Deepavali is celebrated over five days; Dhanteras, Naraka Chaturdashi, Diwali, Balipadyami, and Bhai Bij.

Dhanteras is the first day of Deepavali. On this first day, people clean up their homes to welcome Lakshmi and light little clay lamps to drive evil spirits away. It regarded as an auspicious day and a good day to buy expensive items, as well as performing acts of charity.

Naraka Chaturdashi celebrates the defeat of the demon king Naraka while marking the near end of the year. Traditions on this day involve all activities that indicate a fresh start or a clean slate. People celebrate this day by putting on new or clean clothes.

Southern India celebrates this day as the most crucial day of Deepavali.

Diwali is the most important day of Deepavali for most of India. They light candles to light the way for Lord Rama on his way home after defeating Ravana, the demon. In the evening, the sky is filled with fireworks and firecrackers.

Balipadyami is the first day of the Vikram Samvat calendar. It signifies the beginning of a new year, and a lot of food is prepared and taken to several temples on this day. Balipadyami is also known as Annakut, Pratipada or Govardhan Puja.

Bhai Bij is the fifth and final day of Deepavali. It is a day that celebrates the close ties and relationship between brother and sister.

Sisters invite their brothers to feasts, serving them meals of their favourite dishes. They also put a Tilak or powder mark on the foreheads of their brothers while praying for them. Brothers, in return, bestow their sisters with gifts.

KOTO Association wishes you all Happy Deepavali in advance.

References

https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/common/diwali

https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/diwali/

https://www.officeholidays.com/holidays/diwali

https://www.officeholidays.com/holidays/india/bhai-bij

https://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/infopedia/articles/SIP_559_2005-01-04.html