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(Diwali on October 26, 2011 )
When is Diwali in 2011 ?
In 2011, Diwali is on 26th October.
Diwali or Deepawali (rows of light), is one of the major Indian festivals celebrated by people of almost all faiths. It is celebrated all over the country with equal enthusiasm. This festival of LIGHTS, is celebrated to commemorate the returning of Rama and Sita to their kingdom Ayodhya after fourteen years of exile. Deepawali symbolises the victory of righteousness and the lifting of spiritual darkness. It is the celebration of victory of good over evil - and the glory of light.
Though, Diwali is mainly a five- day festival but we can see people preparing Diwali weeks ahead by cleaning and decorating their households. The main festival day falls on the no-moon day of the dark half of Kartik, according to the Hindu lunar calendar. The magical view of cities , towns and villages lit up with Diyas (tiny clay oil lamps) creates an atmosphere of joy and festivity. Innumerable lamps are lit all over the houses, thus, giving an almost divine look to the whole scenario.
It is said that Lakshmi, The Goddess of wealth roams the earth on this day and enters the house that is pure, clean and brightly illuminated. Devotees worship the deities, Lakshmi and Ganesha, and share sweets and gifts with their relatives and friends. It is also the beginning of the new financial year for the business community. However, the main highlight of this festival of lights is the crackers and the fireworks.
Five Days Celebration during Diwali
24th Oct : Dhan-trayodashi or Dhanteras: Dhan means "wealth" and Trayodashi means "13th day". Thus, as the name implies, this day falls on the 13th day of the second half of the lunar month. It is an auspicious day for shopping.
After the puja, children burst
firecrackers heralding the defeat of the demon. As this is a day of rejoicement,
many will have very elaborate breakfasts and lunches and meet family and
friends. In the evening, lamps are again lit and Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped
and offered special dishes. This being a no moon day, many will offer special
tarpana (offerings of water and sesame seeds) to their ancestors.
26th Oct : Diwali: the actual day of Diwali, is celebrated on the third day of the festival, when the moon completely wanes and total darkness sets in the night sky.
28th Oct : Bhaiduj (also Bhayyaduj, Bhaubeej or Bhayitika) — on this day, brothers and sisters meet to express their love and affection for each other (Gujarati: Bhai Bij, Bengali: Bhai Phota). Most Indian festivals bring together families, Bhaiduj brings together married sisters and brothers, and is a significant festive day for them. This festival is ancient, and pre-dates 'Raksha Bandhan' another brother-sister festival being celebrated today.
Goddess Lakshmi :
The Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi was incarnated on the new moon day (amaavasyaa)
of the Kartik month during the churning of the ocean (samudra-manthan), hence
the association of Diwali with Lakshmi.
Significance of Diwali in Hinduism
The festival marks the victory of good over evil. The Sanskrit word Deepavali means array of lights that stands for victory of brightness over darkness. As the knowledge of Sanskrit diminished, the name was popularly modified to Diwali, especially in northern India.
On the day of Diwali, many wear new clothes, share sweets and light firecrackers. The North Indian business community usually starts their financial new year on Diwali and new account books are opened on this day.
Hindus find cause to celebrate this festival for different reasons:
Diwali in Sikhism
Sikhs also celebrate Diwali to commemorate the laying of the foundation stone for the Golden Temple in 1577. It is also known as Bandi Chhorh Divas. The Mughal emperor Jahangir arrested the Sikh Guru Hargobind and imprisoned him in Gwalior. Later Jehangir relented and released the Guru. The Guru asked that 52 rulers imprisoned with him should also be released. To the joy of the Sikhs the Guru returned to Amritsar on Diwali and it prompted the followers to celebrate the day with joy and happiness.
On Diwali the Sikhs illuminate their Gurdwaras and homesare with Deewé (earthen oil lamps) or candles. Early in the morning, Sikh pilgrims take a dip in the sacred tank while reciting Japji Sahib, and then pray at the Golden Temple. Circumambulation of the tank is done.
Diwali in Jainism
Lord Mahavira, the last of the Jain Tirthankaras, attained Nirvana on this day at Pavapuri. According to Jain tradition the chief disciple of Mahavira, Ganadhar Gautam Swami also attained complete knowledge on this very day, thus making Diwali a really special occasion for the Jains to celebrate.
Diwali is first mentioned in Jain books as the date of the nirvana of Lord Mahavira. The oldest use of the word "Diwali/Dipavali" occurs in Harivamsha-Purana written by Acharya Jinasena, composed in Shaka Samvat 705.
Significance of lamps: The Kalpasutra by Acharya Bhadrabahu, 3rd century BC, explains the significance of lights: "गये से भवुज्जोये, दव्वुज्जोयं करिस्समो", with light of knowledge gone, we make light of ordinary matter.
The way Jains celebrate Diwali is different in many respects. There is a note of asceticism in whatever the Jains do, and the celebration of Diwali is not an exception. The Jains celebrate Diwali during the month of Kartik for three days. During this period, among the Shvetambaras, devoted Jains observe fasting and chant the Uttaradhyayan Sutra, which contain the final pravachans of Lord Mahavira, and meditate upon him.