Diwali – a festival of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains

Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs to mark different historical events, stories and myths. They all symbolise the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, hope over despair. In 2017, Diwali – Deepavali will be observed on Thursday 19 October.


 

Hinduism

Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year and is part of a five-day Hindu observance. As one of the most celebrated Hindu festivals it commemorates the victory of good over evil. Deepavali means ‘row of lamps/lights’ and refers to the rows of lamps those celebrating place around their homes or on top of temples. The light of these lamps symbolises the illumination within the individual that can overcome ignorance, represented by darkness.

Diwali lamps signify the removal of spiritual darkness and the ushering in of knowledge capable of realizing Brahman (That) – the Supreme Being present in all animate and inanimate.

Lakshmi Puja during Diwali is observed as it is believed that Goddess Lakshmi emerged from the ocean on this day during the churning of ocean by demons and gods as mentioned in the Puranas. So for the business people, the new business year begins on Diwali. In South India, Diwali is the day in which Lord Krishna killed the demon Narakasura. In Gujarat, the day after Diwali is observed as Annakut – New Year’s Day.

Dhanteras is celebrated two days before Diwali honors Dhanvantari, the physician of the gods. He is believed to have emerged from the ocean on this day during the “churning of the Ocean.

 

 Diwali means “row of lamps”

Jains

On the same Diwali night, Jains celebrate a festival of lights to mark the attainment of moksha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death) by Mahavira, the twenty-fourth and last Jain Tirthankara (Teaching God).

There are eight days during the Diwali celebration in Jainism. These are last three days of Ashwin month and first five days of Kartik month (17 – 24 October 2017).

There are five sacred and auspicious celebrations of each Tirthankara. They are:

  1. Chyavan (Entering womb of mother)
  2. Janma (Birth)
  3. Diksha (Initiation)
  4. Kevalgyan (Omniscience)
  5. Nirvan (Emancipation)

All are very auspicious occasions and are celebrated with the presence of heavenly gods. Except the last, Nirvan. This is when the Tirthankara ( a saviour and spiritual teacher of the dharma [righteous path]. The word tirthankara signifies the founder of a tirtha, which is a fordable passage across the sea of interminable births and deaths… ) attains emancipation (release from the cycle of birth-death-birth-again). The people and gods are very happy in the company of Tirthankara as they obtain purest form of knowledge. They can remove their doubts, realize their past, present and future happenings. When Tirthankara emancipates practically all glamour and happiness vanishes.

 

 

Sikhs

For Sikhs, Diwali is particularly important because it celebrates the release from prison of the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind, and 52 other princes with him, in 1619.

The Sikh tradition holds that the Emperor Jahangir had imprisoned Guru Hargobind and 52 princes. The Emperor was asked to release Guru Hargobind which he agreed to do. However, Guru Hargobind asked that the princes be released also. The Emperor agreed, but said only those who could hold onto his cloak tail would be allowed to leave the prison. This was in order to limit the number of prisoners who could leave.

However, Guru Hargobind had a cloak made with 52 pieces of string and so each prince was able to hold onto one string and leave prison.

Sikhs celebrated the return of Guru Hargobind by lighting the Golden Temple and this tradition continues today.

 

 The Golden Temple complex is decorated with thousands of shimmering lights during Diwali

 

Diwali Celebration in Albury, 2017

Albury Wodonga Indian Australian Association invites All to come and join us to celebrate the auspicious Festival of Light – Diwali 2017 on 21st October from 6-9pm at QEII Square Albury. This event is organised in association with Albury Council and AWECC. Come and enjoy some cultural performances and food.

 

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