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. Diwali for 2019 will take place on the weekend of 26-27 October 2019.
Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights 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 celebrants 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”.
On the same 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).
Bandi Chhor Divas “Day of Liberation” is a Sikh festival which celebrates the release from prison in Gwalior of the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind, and 52 princes. Although Guru Sahib was offered his freedom, he refused to leave until the 52 princes who had been detained for political reasons or for defaulting on large sums of tribute owed to the Emperor and had suffered in the fort for years were also released. Not really wanting to free the prisoners the Emperor cleverly added the following condition: “whoever can hold on to the Guru’s cloak can be released.” The Guru with his heart full of compassion for the plight of others was determined to get the prisoners freed. He had a cloak made with 52 corners or tails. So, as the Guru walked out of the gate of the fort the fifty-two princes trailed behind, each holding on to his own tail of the Guru’s special cloak. The Guru’s cleverness had trumped Jahangir’s clever condition and liberated the 52 princes. Guru Hargobind is therefore also known as Bandi-Chhor (Liberator)
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