Everybody loves Dipavali! Also known as Diwali in many parts of India, for most people, this is the most important celebration of the year. It’s certainly the most important day in the Vedic calendar. And it’s also the most beautiful, with lights everywhere shining through the night. It’s also the noisiest, as fireworks are considered essential by many.

Dipavali is a celebration meant to enliven the qualities of prosperity, abundance, fullness, and fulfilment. This is a day when everyone seeks the blessings of Mahalakshmi. The Sanskrit word ‘Mahalakshmi’ means ‘great abundance’. Mahalakshmi is responsible for growth, prosperity and affluence in life. This day is also known as Lakshmi Puja. Lakshmi and Mahalakshim are the same.

Diwali is celebrated for five days according to the lunar Hindu Calendar, and this is actually the third day. The lights are lit during the darkest night of the year. In India, the new moon is an hour or two past midnight tonight.

Photo by Harpreet Singh

The traditional lights are called diyas. Most commonly, they are made of unglazed pottery and filled with ghee or oil and a little cotton wick. No one lights just one diya. As you can see in the photo above, people light as many as they possibly can. Garlands of flowers are draped everywhere, along with other decorations. Colorful paper lanterns are also popular in parts of India.

 

Along the Ganges, it's traditional to make floating diyas of leaves. They are filled with flowers and little earthen diyas filled with ghee. This one was huge, nearly three feet across. Photo by J.D. Viharini.

There are a number of important events associated with Dipavali. It celebrates the day on which a triumphant Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana. It’s also the day that Sri Krishna killed the demon Narakasura. Fireworks are considered as effigies of the demon Narakasura. And the Pandavas returned from twelve years of exile on Dipavali.

Although there is a deep spiritual significance to Dipavali, it’s also the most important day for putting on new clothes, using new utensils, vehicles, etc., in the hopes that they will bring good fortune to the owners. The weeks leading up to Dipavali are the merchants’ joy, as the shopping frenzy increases as the day draws near. This is THE big shopping season of the year. Those without disposable income try to save up their rupees to buy new essentials at this time. Those who have money to spend really splurge out.

When you visit friends on this day, it’s traditional to bring sweets. It’s also a time of gift-giving. Workers get bonuses. House staff are usually also given a set of new clothes and a few other special items.



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