“So put on your saris, it’s time to celebrate Diwali. Everybody looks so jolly, but it’s not Christmas it’s Diwali!”. We begin with a song lyric sung by the great regional manager of Dunder Mifflin, Michael Scott. Jokes aside, if you don’t know what Diwali is, it’s an annual festival of lights celebrated by Hindus and Buddhists all across the world. There are a lot of mythical figures and gods associated with the celebration, like Sita and Rama, Vishnu, Krishna, and most importantly Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity.
There are a lot of preparations done to anticipate the five-day long festival, like cleaning homes and workplaces with diyas and rangolis. During the celebration itself, people will go out to meet their relatives and spend time with them all day long. They will cook different kinds of food and feast happily. It’s definitely one of the best annual celebrations in the world! If you’d like to learn more about Diwali facts, don’t go anywhere and stick around to discover some astonishing and fun facts about the festival of lights.
1. Diwali Means “Row of Lights”
We’ve known for a fact that Diwali is a festival of lights. It can really be traced back from the meaning of Diwali itself. Diwali came from deepa, which means clay lamps or light, and avali, which means row. In short, Diwali means a row of lights. During this cool celebration, people will light up diyas in their home.
Diyas are tiny earthen lamps that are usually used for this special occasion. Most people considered diyas to be really significant to the festival of light itself. Diwali is celebrated during the new moon day, considered as a time of darkness. Lighting diyas will be considered as a symbol to get rid of any greedy thoughts and bring good luck.
2. Most People Celebrate Diwali to Honor Lakshmi, But It Has a Deeper Meaning
The main thing that people remember during Diwali celebration is to honor the goddess of prosperity Lakshmi. It is believed that she will bring fortune and blessings to all the people who celebrate the festival. However, different cultures also have different approaches towards the celebration. People also celebrate Diwali as an ode to the triumph of good over evil after Rama and Sita defeat the evil Ravana.
3. Diwali Is Not Exclusive to Hindu
While it is normal to associate Diwali with Hindu religion, it’s inaccurate to think that only Hindu celebrate the festival. In fact, a lot of other religions like Jainism and Sikhism also take part in celebrating Diwali. However, they have different ways and approaches to celebrate Diwali. To an extent, even some Buddhists also celebrate Diwali. They regarded Diwali as a commemoration of the day when Emperor Ashoka converted to Buddhism.
4. Diwali is Celebrated for Five Days, and Each Has Their Own Meanings
Diwali is a celebration of lights. Each year, Hindus all over the world celebrate Diwali for a full five days. But did you know that each day has its own meaning? Let’s take a deep dive towards each day, shall we?
- Day one – Dhanteras: for the first day, Hindus will do the worship of wealth to the goddess Lakshmi and Dhanvatari.
- Naraka Chaturdashi: during the second day, people will take a bath and apply aromatic oils. They believed that accomplishing those feats would help the purge of all sins.
- Lakshmi Puja: now this is the main part of the festival. People believed that during this day, the goddess Lakshmi will enter all the homes and bless them with good fortunes. To welcome the goddess of wealth, people will keep lit diyas near open windows and doors.
- Padwa: on the fourth day of Diwali, Krishna has defeated Indra. To celebrate it, people will make small hillocks.
- Bhai Dooj: the last day of Diwali celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters. Sisters will pray for their brother’s good fortune. In return, their brothers will buy gifts for them.
5. Make Sure to Avoid Doing These Things During the Celebration
Diwali is a celebration that is widely regarded. That’s the reason why you’re likely to see people celebrating like crazy. However, it’s still important to set up boundaries and limits, because there are some things that you should be avoiding according to the traditions. Some of them are forbidden because of the traditions, while some should be avoided to keep you and others safe during the festival. Here are some things that you must not do:
- Choosing leather items as gifts
- Drinking and taking non-vegetarian food during Diwali
- Cheesy sauces
- Oily and junk food
6. People Cook and Eat Special Food During Diwali, But They Also Consume Lots of Sweets
Previously, we have mentioned how people gathered around and celebrated Diwali with friends and relatives. They will then cook and feast on food together. But it’s important to note that they’re not eating pizzas or burgers during the celebration. In fact, they will eat traditional Indian foods like Sheera, Kheer, and Samosa.
Aside from those traditional Indian foods, people who celebrate Diwali also consume a lot of sweets. It symbolizes the enjoyment and colorful feeling that all of the people are experiencing. But to a deeper extent, it also represents the triumph of good over evil.
7. Diyas Aren’t the Only Important Aspect of Diwali! You Can Add Rangoli Too
We can’t deny that diyas are very important during the celebration of Diwali. However, you should not overlook the importance of other aspects in Diwali, like Rangoli. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it is a colorful pattern and designs that are usually made on the floor to welcome Lakshmi. While diyas are used as means to cast away sins and impurity, rangolis can be used to welcome blessings through the appearance of Lakshmi.
8. Diwali Has Emerged as One of the Most Popular Celebrations in the World
When we’re speaking of festivals and celebrations, we usually talk about Christmas, Easter, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. But lately, Diwali has emerged to be a large and popular celebration worldwide. In the United States alone, you can see thousands of participants for the festival of lights. In 2019, a Diwali celebration in San Antonio drew more than 40,000 participants!
There are various countries that celebrate Diwali like India. Indonesia, Fiji, Mauritius, Nepal, and Singapore are just a few countries that rival the original country. In Australia, Diwali is celebrated in Sydney and Melbourne. Usually, they will gather around The Federation Square. Fireworks and traditional Indian dances will also be performed.
9. Leicester is the Largest City Outside India to Host a Diwali Celebration
When mentioning Diwali celebrations all around the world, it’s going to be hard if we omit the UK from the conversation. In fact, it is said that the UK has the greatest Diwali celebration (out of India, of course!). When you take a look at the past Diwali celebrations held in the country, you’ll notice that it was jam packed everywhere in the country.
A huge part of it was done in Leicester. Currently, it is regarded as the largest city to host a Diwali festival outside of India. The celebration goes on for two weeks and 50 different events. It’s also worth mentioning that planning the party takes months and it also enlists different agencies.
10. It Became an Episode in The Office
Diwali has become a large festival celebrated worldwide. But in the early 2000s, most people weren’t aware of it yet. However, Diwali managed to become a centerpiece for an episode of an iconic TV show “The Office”. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, try to catch up until the third season of the show!
In the episode, Michael encouraged all of his employees to join a Diwali party. You’ll learn a thing or two about the celebration here, too! People highly regard this episode because of its ability to represent cultural issues.
11. Barack Obama is the First US President to Light Up Diya in the Oval Office
This historic moment came in 2016. Back then, President Barack Obama lit the first ever diya in the Oval Office. During the celebration, he hoped that this tradition would be passed down to the next President. During his speech, he also reminisced about the time when he was greeted with open arms in Mumbai back in 2009.
12. People Often Purchase Gold During Diwali
Aside from cooking delicious meals, it turns out that people who celebrate Diwali often buy gold during the festival. To be precise, they will try to invest in gold during the Dhanteras festival (day one of Diwali). The reason for this is simple: they see gold as the embodiment of the goddess of wealth Lakshmi.
But why buy gold during the first day of the festival? Perhaps the answer lies in the name of Dhanteras. Dhanteras itself also has the meaning of wealth and prosperity. But due to the high demand of gold during said period, it is wise to do some verification before buying gold!
13. India and Pakistan Soldiers Get Together During Diwali
India and Pakistan are well-known to have a sour relationship. Over the past 70 years, these two countries were battling each other in three different wars. But all the soldiers from both sides were willing to put aside their differences during this five-day period.
Diwali is sacred for both India and Pakistan. Aside from having a truce, they even exchange sweets on Diwali. This tradition has been going on and is also done during other celebrations like Eid and Holi. It’s really nice to see how countries were willing to put aside differences and celebrate together as humans. Here’s to hoping that they will stop the conflicts altogether.
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