Diwali – The 5 Days of Celebrations

Diwali or Deepavali is the Hindu festival of lights celebrated in many countries and it is an official holiday in Fiji, Guyana, India, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and recently Sindh Province in Pakistan. The date of the festival is calculated according to the position of the moon and the Hindu lunar calendar and is usually in October or November. Recently in Guyana the date has become a debate among our leaders. In 2017, some corners are claiming that the festival is on the 18th (the date that the Government declared a National Holiday) while others say it is on the 19th October. Nevertheless, Diwali is celebrated for five days.

The significance of the five days are as follows:

  • Dhanteras (Day 1): ‘Dhah’ means wealth – and this day is dedicated to celebrating prosperity.
  • Naraka Chaturdasi or Chhoti Diwali (Day 2): Known as ‘small Diwali’, Goddess Kali and Lord Krishna are believed to have destroyed the demon Narakasura on this day. Kali is worshiped in West Bengal, while demon effigies are burned in Goa.
  • Amavasya (Day 3): The new moon day, and the darkest day of the month, which is the most significant day of Diwali.
  • The fourth day (Day 4): This day has various meanings in different parts of India. In the north, it’s the day Lord Krishna defeated Indra. In Gujarat, it’s the start of the new year.
  • Bhai Dooj (Day 5): A feast and celebration of brotherly-sisterly love

Diwali is celebrated by Hindus to observe legend of Hindu God Rama and his wife Sita’s returning to their kingdom in northern India after being exiled following the defeat of demon king Ravanna. The word itself means “series of lights” and during the festival houses and shops are decorated with diyas and other lights.

Diwali signifies light over darkness and the Hindu belief that good will always triumph over evil. For many observers, Diwali honours Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and people will start the new business year at Diwali and some will say prayers to the goddess for a prosperous year ahead.

In Guyana, we celebrate the festival by cooking an abundance of delicacies, and spending time with friends and family. The children take to streets in the evening and frolic with fireworks and spinning lighted steel wool.

References:

  1. “SEE THE LIGHT When is Diwali 2017, why and how do Hindus celebrate it and what are the origins of the festival of light?”, https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/4221379/diwali-2017-date-hindu-festival-when-how/, Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  2. “Indian Government Holiday Calendar”. National Portal of India. Retrieved 16 November 2016.