‘Diwali’ – The festival of lights and one of the most pictorial festivals in India. It has the root of Indian mythology as in the way of honoring the avatar of Lord Vishnu. In the Hindu tradition, the goddess of happiness and good fortune Lakshmi is believed that she would roam the earth on this day. Diwali celebrations may vary in different communities, but the general theme of this festivity is to remove the evil and lamp the inner light.
In south India, commonly people takes oil bath before sunrise with immense excitement by means of removing the blood stains of Lord Krishna, after the destruction of evil King Narakasura, stories were also recited along with actors who dressed up as Krishna and Sathyambha. This way of narration is known as “Harikatha”. During this holy day people used to buy the precious things like silver and gold. In North India, the people widely celebrate the return of Lord Rama and Seetha to Ayodhya after the demolition of evil Ravana, people used to welcome their arrival with the row of lamps. Govinda pooja celebration is based on the King Mahabali return to the earth to know the welfare of his subjects. The last day Bhai Dhooj, South Indian’s celebrates as Yama Dvitiya – Sisters invite their brothers to their home and pray for their long life.
The festival of light not only brightens in India but also celebrated across the world in own ways with certain similarities. Nowadays it is a common carnival notably in Great Britain, United States, South Africa, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Pakistan, Nepal, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Tihar in Nepal:
In Nepal, the Diwali festival is celebrated as Tihar. This festival laureates for five days. The Diyas (clay lamps) are lit inside and outside of the houses, it also popularly known as ‘Swanti’. It mainly celebrated to show the reverence not only for humans & gods but also the intimate relationship with animals. People make designs on the floor of living rooms or country yards using colored rice, dry flour, colored sand and the flower petals outside for the warm welcoming of the Hindu goddess ‘Laxmi’.
Worship of crows: (Day 1)
The first day of the festival is called ‘Kaag Tihar’. Crows and Ravens are the fore-seeing of good and bad news and also believed to be the messenger of Yama. The crowing of crows and ravens symbolizes sadness and grief in Hinduism. So, the devotees offer crows and Ravens food to avert grief and death in their homes. Tihar among Gorkhas represents the divine attachment between humans and animals.
Worship of Dogs: (Day 2)
The second day called ‘Kukur Tihar’ which also known as ‘Khicha puja’ people offer garlands, tika (holy Kumkum) and delicious food to their dogs in order to cherish the relationship between the humans and dogs. Dogs also believed to be the messenger of lord Yema and can see the upcoming danger. In Mahabharata, Bhairava, a fierce manifestation of lord Shiva, has a dog as his vehicle. Yama the god of death, is believed to own two guard dogs each with four eyes. The dogs are said to watch over the gates of Naraka in the interest of this belief, this day also observed as ‘Naraka Chaturdashi’.
Worship of Cows: (Day 3)
The morning of the third day is ‘Gai Tihar’ (worship of the cow) signifies property and wealth. In ancient days people benefited a lot from a cow. In this day houses and doorways are decorated with the garlands made up of Saya Patri (marigold) and makhamali (Gomphrena globasa) flowers. In evening, Laxmi the goddess of prosperity thanks for all the benefits that were bestowed on the families by lighting oil lamps (Diyo) or candles on doorways for welcoming prosperity and well-being. At night girls enjoy singing & dancing, visiting all the houses in their surrounding with the musical equipment, part of the celebration called as ‘Bhailo’. From the third day, Tihar celebrated with Deusi (narrative song) and Bhailo. Desui is mostly sung by boys while Bhailo is sung by the girls. In return, they gets money, fruit & selrotti (Tihar sweet).
Govardhan Pooja: (Day 4)
On the fourth day of Tihar, there are different poojas followed by the people peculiarly, the people who follow Vaishnavism performs the Govardhan Pooja. This day is seen as the beginning of the year by the sambat calendar.
Worshipping Brotherhood: (Day 5)
This day celebrated distinctively for the welfare of the brothers. The last day of Tihar is called Bhai Pooja, sisters usually applying the Tika to the forehead of their brothers to ensure the long life and thank them for the protection. It is believed that Yamraj, visited his sister goddess Yamuna on this day and she applied auspicious Tika on his forehead, garlanded him and fed the special dishes. That day Yamraj announced that anyone who receives Tilak from their sister will never die on that day. The unique ways of celebrations!
Loi Krathong in Thailand:
The name Loi Krathong is the admirable Diwali celebration, celebrated by the Thai people. During the festival, they use a folded banana leaves with lamps and candles instead of diyas. The meaning of Krathong is a small container made up of a piece of banana tree trunk or a Spider Lilly plant which can be floated on water. Now the modern Krathongs are most often made up of bread or Styrofoam. A bread Krathong will fall apart after a few days and can be eaten by fish. A small coin is included in the container just as an offering to the water spirits. There are competitions for the best of large Krathongs but styrofoam Krathongs are sometimes banned in Thailand to eradicate the water pollution.Chao Phraya river in Bangkok features the huge Krathong floats annually. So, the city mobilized special workers and boats to collect the Krathongs floats from the river.
Diwali in the United States:
Diwali is also celebrated with the familiar tune in the United States. This festival officially celebrated by George W Bush at White house on 2003. Again it was enlightened by Barack Obama on 2009. While considering United states Diwali is a sort of family get together, gift exchanges, and grand feasts with dance parties. It was simply celebrated in a lavish manner.
The meaning of festivity:
Diwali is a homogeneous culture but widely celebrated in different parts of the world in their own ways.This is also harmony festival that celebrated by people of all-region and caste where families and friends join together to play with lights and sounds in the way of making it colorful and bright. On this day past quarrels are forgotten and forgiveness is sought from the elderly to repent the errors made by the young ones. Today’s globe is too busy, this kind of celebrations gives a person a reason to enjoy, to mingle and have peaceful moments. Even the festival has the special power to mend the broken hearts and bind the relationship. A meaningful celebration can fill the life with joy and love. The kaleidoscopic carnival for celebrating the life away from stress and worries.