India: Happy Diwali

Here we are in Varanasi, visiting the ghats.

Diwali (also spelled Devali in certain regions) or Deepavali, popularly known as the “festival of lights,” is primarily a five day Hindu festival which starts on Dhanteras, celebrated on thirteenth lunar day of Krishna paksha (dark fortnight) of the Hindu calendar month Ashwin and ends on Bhaubeej, celebrated on second lunar day of Shukla paksha (bright fortnight) of the Hindu calendar month Kartik. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali falls between mid-October and mid-November. Diwali is an official holiday in India,  Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji.

For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year and is celebrated in families by performing traditional activities together in their homes. For Jains, Diwali marks the attainment of moksha or nirvana by Mahavira in 527 BCE.  Arya Samajists, celebrate this day as Death Anniversary of Swami Dayanand Saraswati. They also celebrate this day as Shardiya Nav-Shasyeshti.

The name “Diwali” or “Divali” is a contraction of “Deepavali”, which translates into “row of lamps”. Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps, filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. These lamps are kept on during the night and one’s house is cleaned, both done in order to make the goddess Lakshmi feel welcome.  Firecrackers are burst because it is believed that it drives away evil spirits.  During Diwali, all the celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends.

The festival starts with Dhanteras on which most Indian business communities begin their financial year. The second day of the festival is called the Naraka Chaturdasi. Amavasya, the third day of Diwali, marks the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. The fourth day of Diwali is known as Kartika Shudda Padyami. The fifth day is referred to as Yama Dvitiya (also called Bhai Dooj), and on this day sisters invite their brothers to their homes.

(Thanks to Wikipedia.)

This was my pedicab driver, who, despite his small size, was able to wheel me to the Ganges River.

It was so dusty that we decided to use masks during the ride.

And off we go!

Notice the traffic.  We were told to keep our hands inside the cab, because cars could come so close that your hand would be crushed.

Small candle pots were bought by passengers on the boat to make a wish.

On the boat, looking at the ghats (steps).

The candles were lit.

This is David placing his candle pot on the surf.

Everyone is celebrating Diwali.

Ashore again, we passed by some colorful performers.

I might add that our tour guide directed us to the famous Varanasi cremation ghats along the Ganges River.  However, beyond a certain point we were forbidden to take any photos out of respect for the dead.  I’d say that India has a very interesting culture, wouldn’t you?

13 Responses to “India: Happy Diwali”

  1. Arti Says:

    Very good description of the most important festival of Hindu’s. The ceremony you saw on the Varanasi Ghats is that of the ‘Ganga Arti’ which is done every evening. It is one of the highlights of Varanasi.

  2. Christine Says:

    Diwali is a big celebration here as there is a large Hindu community. The stores are selling a lot of Indian food products at this time. Thanks for explaining this holiday so well! Wonderful photos!

  3. SchmidleysScribbling Says:

    How wonderful you were able to participate in this festive celebration. Dianne

  4. L...w Says:

    Very interesting culture indeed!! A melting pot of east meets middle east.

    Glad you enjoyed your trip!!

  5. DrumMajor Says:

    Nice photos. What makes the area so dusty? Many fireworks or the burning oil lamps? DrumMajor

  6. zeiss Says:

    You should probably cite Wikipedia if you’re going to copy and paste directly from the website.

  7. Kay's Musings Says:

    Oh my gosh! This is so fantastic. What a terrific time to be there. I just saw a Diwali greeting from Tulsi Gabbard who is Hindi. So wonderful!

  8. Tilly Bud - The Laughing Housewife Says:

    How fortunate that you were in India at the time, to experience it.

  9. Grannymar Says:

    Great to be there for the premier festival of the country. Great photos.

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