Diwali, the wonderful festival of lights, has managed to conquer the whole world! For several days, countries such as India, Nepal and Sri Lanka are filled with lights and colours to celebrate the victory of good over evil. Known as Diwali, Tihar or Deepavali, this festival manages to fill us with love and light every year. Learn more about this very special celebration!
What is the Diwali festival?
Diwali, the wonderful Festival of Light (also called Divali or in Sanskrit, Deepavali or Deepawali) is one of the greatest festivities of India: the beginning of the Hindu New Year. The festivities take place on the fifteenth day of the second dark fortnight of the month of kārttika (which can take place between October and November each year), and can last four or five days. During this period, countries such as India, Nepal or Sri Lanka are filled with lights and colours to celebrate the triumph of good over evil. In Diwali 2021, the time has come to light up millions of lights and celebrate this very special holiday.
But what was the origin of this tradition? Diwali has a strong religious sense for Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. And although it is a common festival to all these religions, the main divinity in Diwali is Lakshmi who symbolises beauty and good luck as well as prosperity and wealth of its people. The reason why every house and place is lit up at this time of the year is because of the legend of Prince Rama, a prince that saved his wife and his village from the the demon Ravana, after having gone through many twists and turns. After defeating this demoniac creature, the inhabitants illuminated the whole city to show the god the way back. That’s why thousands of people light their homes and surroundings hoping that light will triumph over darkness and fill the coming year with peace and joy!
In Diwali it is customary to make offerings to the gods. The queen of the festivities is Lakshmí, wife of the god Vishnú, goddess who symbolizes good luck and beauty and who grants prosperity and wealth. Also, the popular god Ganesha is especially worshiped on these special days. In the eastern part of the country, the goddess Kali is particularly revered.
The 5 magical days of Diwali
There are many reasons why Diwali is so popular. Diwali 2021 is a party that has something for everyone! A celebration that fosters family ties and moments surrounded by friends and loved ones. Spending time with loved ones is essential, and they often exchange gifts and sweets with each other. These festivities take place over five days, each named according to the Hindu calendar:
Day 1. Vasu Baras. On the first day of celebration, cows and calves, sacred animals in the country, are worshiped and all homes are carefully cleaned.
Day 2. Dhan Teras. The second day of Diwali celebrates the birth of God Dhanvantri. It is the most profitable and prosperous for business. This is when candles and lamps are placed throughout the houses.
Day 3. Kali Chaudas or Chaturdashi. The third day is the most important day of the festival. The day when the light overcame the darkness. It is the day Lord Krishna killed the demon Narakasura. In South India, it is the most celebrated day. The gods are prayed to for happiness and prosperity. This night will be completely lit up by the thousands of firecrackers and fireworks that are thrown. On this day it is typical to wash with perfumes and to bathe before dawn, to do so under the brightness of the stars is considered a sacred bath. The third day of Diwali fills all the cities of india with happiness.
Day 4. Diwali/ Deepawali or Lakshmi Puja. It is the most important day of the Diwali festival in North India. The fourth day is the first of the new Hindu year. In every home we pray to Lakshmi (Queen of the Festival, wife of the god Vishnú, whose image represents beauty and brings good luck, prosperity and wealth) and Ganesh. Friends and family gather to exchange gifts.
Day 5. Govardhan Puja. This day is celebrated in many ways in India. It is the day that Krishna defeated Indra. He killed the latter and released the maidens he was holding. It is common for husbands to give special gifts to their wives and brothers to strengthen their bonds.
The next day, Bhaiduj, brothers and sisters from all over India express their affection.
How is Diwali celebrated around the world?
Diwali is the great festival of India, but it is also celebrated in different corners of the world. From Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Fiji or Trinidad and Tobago to Mauritius, Malaysia and Guyana, among others. The Diwali festival is so popular that all the countries of the world put it in the spotlight by sending their congratulations.
Diwali is celebrated according to different traditions, beliefs and customs in different places. Even the duration of the festival itself varies. Today we tell you about some of the most curious beliefs and customs in this shining festival.
1. One of the most visited places during this festival: India
The Festival of Lights in India is known by two names. Diwali is what the inhabitants of the north of the country call it, with a duration of five days. However, in the south of the country it is celebrated for four days and is known as Deepavali. Whatever it is called, for our friends in India it is the most important festival in the country and it is celebrated in the same way and with the same joy.
It’s all about the light. Numerous diyas (small oil lamps) illuminate the streets, balconies and windows. Firecrackers and fireworks light up the dark night sky.
In India it is believed that the origin of this festival is the victory of Rama over Ravana, the defeat of the devil. When this happened, the God returned home and the inhabitants illuminated the whole city with lights to help him in his return. There they live with great spirituality. It is a representation of the triumph of good over evil, of joy over hardship, of light over darkness.
2. The Tihar Festival in Nepal
In the Himalayan country the Festival of Lights is known as Tihar. It lasts five days and nature is honored, so each day a creature of the animal world is venerated.
- The first day is Raven’s Day, so offerings for these animals are left on the rooftops of the houses. This is believed to ward off bad omens.
- The dogs are blessed on the second day of the Festival of Lights. They are decorated with flower necklaces and marked with pigmented powders. Funny, isn’t it?
- On the third day, the cows are the main protagonists. They are washed and decorated with flowers and colours and are fed in a special way. Also on this day the goddess of health and fortune is venerated: Laxmi. Many lights are lit in her honour and the whole atmosphere is joyful with music.
- There are different customs to celebrate the fourth day, depending on the region of the country. In some areas the ox is worshipped, while in others the Goverdhan mountain or the human body itself is honoured.
- At the end of the festival, the love between brothers and sisters is celebrated. In some cities there are beautiful parades and it is common to see how the brothers are sprayed with water and oil. It is a feast of brotherly union.
3. Lights shining on Thailand’s sky
In the Southeast Asian country the festival of lights takes the name of Loi Krathong or Yee Peng. Its celebration lasts only one day, coinciding with the full moon.
Best wishes travel by air and water on this day. The whole sky is lit up by flying lamps that are thrown into the air. The rivers and lakes are lit up with small boats made from banana peels on which a candle is placed. A real spectacle, no doubt.
4. Malaysia: cultural diversity
In Malaysia the Festival of Lights is celebrated by everyone and the diyas illuminate every corner. It is celebrated in a single day, known as Hari Diwali.
During the celebration, the elders are especially honored and it is common for the doors of the houses to be opened to celebrate together, regardless of your origin or belief. The youngest of the house usually receive a purple envelope with money inside.
As you can see, it’s the same festival, but different traditions are born all over the world, yes! There is one great point in common and one element that does not fail and that is, without a doubt, light. No matter where you are, Diwali is the festival of lights. That is why everything revolves around the magic of light and why candles and oil lamps are essential in all the countries where it is celebrated.
Diwali 2021 from a distance
If you too have heard about Diwali, have a friend who is away from their loved ones at this time of the year or if it happens to you like us and you have indulged in the beauty of this festival, here are some details to help you celebrate Diwali from a distance.
1. Turn on millions of lights!: Diwali is the Festival of Lights. That is why oil lamps (diyas) and candles cannot miss. On Hindu New Year’s Eve you can fill your house with little diyas that will light up the evening. The more there are the prettier it gets.
2. Welcome home in a joyful way: To celebrate Diwali it is common to decorate home entrances with rangoli designs (with colored sands or other materials). You can buy them prefabricated or, if you are skilled, make them with your own hands. It’s the way to welcome your visitors that magical night.
3. Start the Hindu New Year by purifying your home: It is customary for homes to be cleaned carefully and with special dedication in the days leading up to the Diwali celebration. It’s a great way to get rid of what you don’t need and do a thorough cleaning, both material and spiritual. In the end, it is what, according to our Hindu friends, we must do in our soul: purify.
4. Prepare tasty typical and traditional Diwali recipes: One of the best ways to celebrate Diwali is to have a delicious dinner with your loved ones and share sweets. Invite your friends and loved ones to a delicious meal prepared by you to welcome the Hindu New Year!
5. Dress joyfully: The clothes we wear are an essential item to celebrate Diwali. As in India, clothes should be festive, cheerful and colourful. You have to welcome the new year, so you have to do it in style.
6. And the most important thing:
Diwali is the victory of good over evil. It reminds us that we have to follow the right path, that it is necessary to do good.
This festival celebrates values such as sharing, love for one’s own and the triumph of good. Indeed, even if you are not physically close to your family on this holiday, make sure they can celebrate it properly. Whether in India or Nepal, send money to your relatives so that they can enjoy this festival.
8 Ways to celebrate an Eco-Friendly Diwali
Celebrating Diwali 2021 the right way is not incompatible with an eco-friendly festivity. Indeed, here are some tips to make your celebration sustainable.
1. Don’t use electric lights: Diwali is undoubtedly the festival of lights, but when you go shopping for lights in this Diwali, resist the temptation to buy these eye-catching electric lights. There are other ways to light up the house. Instead, look for earthen lamps and candles. Lighting your house naturally will greatly reduce your electricity consumption and your decoration will look even more elegant.
2. Use natural colors instead of chemical colors: Chemical colors may look attractive, but try designing a rangoli using natural colors and you’ll never use chemical colors again. Use natural ingredients like rice powder for white, legumes or turmeric for a bright yellow, cloves or cinnamon for brown, cardamom or fennel for green, kumkum for red; or flowers of all colors!
3. Turn dow the volume of the music: Loud music in any form is simply a nuisance. Turn the volume down. Not only will you feel good, but you will also help those who need to rest. You never know if the neighbor has to get up early to work and wants to rest, or if there’s a little boy in the neighborhood who wakes up from his dream with that loud music. Celebrate a quiet, silent Diwali.
4. Don’t buy firecrackers: These noisy firecrackers cause a lot of distress to the elderly, small children and animals, not to mention environmental pollution caused by smoke and vapours. But if you can’t celebrate Diwali without these firecrackers, opt for eco-friendly ones made from recycled paper.
5. Gift Better: Giving something whenever you visit someone is a tradition during Diwali. Giving doesn’t mean buying something already done, you can do it yourself. Your relatives will be even more thankful.
6. Make your own Diwali cards: And if you don’t have artistic talent, just send an email or Whatsapp!
7. Don’t buy industrial candy: These have too much sugar and artificial coloring; make your own candy using natural products. For sure they’ll be delicious!
8. If you don’t know how to cook, gift a plant in this Diwali: Instead of carrying sweets that are packed in plastic, give a decorative plant and set a new trend! We know that any form of change is not easy, especially when it is time to celebrate and we want to enjoy the party to the fullest.
We resist any kind of change by telling us that it is not celebrated every day, but keep in mind that our land has limited resources. The more we take care of it today, the better tomorrow will be. Do a bit for the society y the environment in this Diwali and don’t forget to encourage your family and friends to celebrate an environmentally safe and secured Diwali.
Go Green this Diwali 2021!
Create your own Rangoli
Drawing a Rangoli is a tradition passed down from generation to generation in India. They are used to decorate your homes, usually placed on the floor at the entrance of your house. In India, many competitions are held to inspire young and old alike. The choice of design, materials, colours and shapes is completely free. We advise you to practise on paper first and when you are satisfied, you can draw the final design. There are an infinite number of possibilities in terms of the materials and designs chosen. Here are some examples!
1. Dry flowers: This is one of the easiest to do. You can place dried flowers of different colors for your design. It’s fast since you do not have to wait for the paint to dry and equally easy to pick up. However, it is not recommended for outdoor spaces since the wind can send all the work to fly away.
2. Colored textures: You can also use different textures to create your ideal Rangoli. Flour, sand, rice … Tinted in different ways, and combined together they will give a really beautiful optical effect.
3. Aluminum foil: This is the most modern technique of all. Although it is true that it is not traditional, it is an original way to create a beautiful and bright Rangoli. Mark your drawing with a thick-tipped object (pencil or similar) and then go to color with your favorite tones. The result will be gleaming!
4. Stones: Decorate stones from different sizes and shapes to give a special touch to your Rangoli. You can draw a simple design. Decorating it with colored stones will be exceptional!
5. Painting: The last option we show you today is to paint directly on the ground. It is riskier because it needs time to dry and if you make a mistake it is harder to rectify. A special trick that we tell you is to add a bit of glitter to the final drawing before it dries. It will give an elegant and sophisticated touch.
In any case, there are many types of rangoli patterns for Diwali available on the internet that you can choose according to your tastes or preferred materials.
Just let the creativity illuminate you this Diwali 2021 !