The ‘Festival of Lights’, Diwali is a colourful and vibrant religious festival celebrated every year by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and even some Buddhists around the world.
Diwali is a five day festival, which originated from ancient Indian times. The word Diwali is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘dipavali’, which means a row of lights. Depending on your religion and the region you live in India, there are various reasons for celebrating Diwali and it marks different historical events and stories. Essentially Diwali symbolises Good triumphing over Evil, the victory of Light over Darkness and Knowledge over Ignorance.
Diwali takes places every year, depending on the position of the Moon, either in October or November.
People illuminate their homes, temples and offices with diyas, candles and lanterns. In the build up to Diwali, people often clean or redecorate their houses and decorate their floors with rangoli, colourful artwork patterns created from flour, rice, sand or flower petals. Gifts are often exchanged, girls will receive new saris and boys will be given new ‘kurta pajama’, similar to a shirt, they will change into their new clothes, marking a fresh start to the new year. And of course, fireworks are a huge part of Diwali!
In Hinduism, depending on your region, Diwali is celebrated for Lord Krishna’s defeat of the demon Narakasur and the homecoming of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after fourteen years in exile. The holiday starts with a ritual ceremony or ‘puja’ to celebrate the victory of light against the darkness.
Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhorh Divas, which coincides with Diwali to mark the release of Guru Hargobind Sahibji and 52 royal members of India who were held captive by Shah Jahan, a mogul emperor in 1619. To this day, Sikhs light up the Golden Temple in Amritsar to celebrate his homecoming.
For Jains, Diwali marks the Nirvana or liberation of Lord Mahavira’s soul from the cycle of death and reincarnation. Diwali is also an occasion to celebrate Lord Mahavira's teachings and contributions to Jainism by lighting lamps to signify the light of his knowledge.
Another highlight of Diwali is the delicious food, where huge feasts are prepared and traditional Indian dishes are consumed, such as Samosas and Mithai; the name given to Indian sweets and desserts and it’s traditional to exchange a box with friends and family.
On our India - Splendours of Delhi, The Taj Mahal & Rajasthan guided tour, departing on 9th November 2020, you can experience Diwali in Jaipur.