Diwali - The Festival of Lights
04 Novembre 2021
Deepawali, more commonly called Diwali, is a large and bright Indian festival that is usually celebrated between October and November. Its name in Sanskrit means "row of lights". This festival symbolizes the ancient Indian culture which teaches to defeat the ignorance that subdues humanity and to chase away the darkness that envelops the light of knowledge. In every legend, myth and story about Deepawali lies the meaning of the victory of good over evil and, with this in mind, the Dyias (small clay lamps) illuminate all the houses, inside and out. Indeed, light makes one capable of good deeds and, therefore, brings one closer to divinity. During Diwali, the lights that illuminate every corner of India, the incense that saturates the air with its perfume, the fireworks that shine and the firecrackers that explode, are all signs of obedience to heaven, in order to receive prosperity, health, wealth, knowledge, peace.
According to the Hindu mythology of the great epic Ramayana, Diwali commemorates the return to Ayodhya of King Rama, together with Sita, his wife, already kidnapped by Ravana, and Lakshmana, his brother, after 14 years of exile and after his victory over the Ravana demon, king of Sri Lanka (see on our blog "Dussehra"). The people of the city, on the return of the king, lit rows (avali) of lamps (dipa) in his honor. Diwali day is celebrated not only in India but also in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore, Fiji etc., albeit in different ways. For Hindus it represents a sort of New Year or the beginning of a new year during which they lavish themselves in devotional actions and prayers to the goddess Lakshmi, the celestial consort of Vishnu. It is said that in ancient times it was a harvest festival. The actual national holiday of Diwali takes place in a single day and the whole country is illuminated and the Sikhs and Janists also celebrate (for the latter, Diwalii represents the first day of the year); on Diwali day all the offices are closed as it is a national holiday. In the Hindu tradition, Diwali is celebrated for five consecutive days, each of which represents a divine story, legend or myth.
Diwali therefore is an important festival observed all over India but if you want to participate in its celebration during a trip to India, there are some particularly interesting places to do so, each with their own charm during Diwali. Jaipur Jaipur, the "pink city" of Rajasthan, is one of the best places to celebrate Diwali. Oil lamps decorate the houses, palaces and local markets that compete for the finest decoration. For example, the Johari Bazar (Jewelery Market) is interesting, full of shops selling gems and local crafts. Varanasi Regarded as one of the most spiritual places on earth, Varanasi is above all magical during the Diwali Festival. The ghats along the Ganges River are illuminated with lamps in his honor. It is believed that on this very day the God descends to Earth to bathe in the waters of the river. The light of the countless candles (diyas) and floating lamps on the river is particularly enchanting and evocative, together with millions of fireworks that make a show in the sky. And, finally, the special Ganga Aarti, a very powerful and exhilarating spiritual ritual to make Diwali even more spiritual. Varanasi is also famous for its "Dev Diwali", which falls 11 days after Diwali, around November 4-5, and represents the moment when the "Devs" or Gods wake up and the faithful celebrate their awakening.
The Diwali of Amritsar, North India cannot be missed. Great celebrations take place around the sacred temple of the Sikhs, the Golden Temple. Sikhs celebrate Diwali in memory of Guru Har Gobind Singh, the sixth Sikh guru, who returned to Amritsar on the very day of Diwali. Many Sikhs with their colorful turbans gather around the famous brightly lit temple; the shore of the lake around which the temple is built is adorned with countless oil lamps and candles lit by devotees.
In Goa, South India, Diwali is celebrated in remembrance of Lord Krishna's destruction of the demon Narakasura. According to legend, Narkasur was a demon who ruled Goa and who captured and killed the citizens. Krishna killed him and freed the city from terror. There are competitions to build the largest and most frightening effigy of the devil. The effigies of the demons parade through the streets and burn at dawn accompanied by spectacular fireworks.