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Diwali (दिवाली) is celebrated all over the world. Let’s take a look at some of the ways different regions celebrate the holiday. Before I begin, let me explain some of the reasons why Hindus regard Diwali as an important holiday. First, Hindus associate Diwali as the commemoration of Narakasura’s death. Narakasura was an evil demon killed by Krishna’s wife Satyabhama. In one account, it was said that she caught a missile hurled by Narakasura with her bare hands, which saved her husband from death. Other accounts say that Krishna killed Narakasura himself.
Anyway, there are six main events observed throughout the Diwali celebrations. All these days are celebrated according to the Hindu calendar. The first day is where the cow is worshipped. The second day is when people buy new utensils. The third day is when Hindus rise before the crack of dawn to take an oil bath and wear new clothes. Lamps are lighted and the Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped on the fourth day. The fifth day is when the men present gift to their wives. The fifth day represents the triumph of Krishna’s victory over the demon Bali. The sixth day is a day recognizing the special bond between brothers and sisters. This day is in honor of the God Yam (lord of death) and his sister.
In southern India, especially in Andhra Pradesh, firecrackers are lit and gifts of sweets are given to the children. The women of the house also create Kolams, which is a form of sandpainting done by rice powder. It’s thought that making these floor paintings near the entrance of the home will bring prosperity to the household. In Gujarat, since Diwali is considered the last day before the start of a new year on the Hindu calender, neighbors give gifts of fresh fruit and go to the temple to pray. Some people go to the temple to protect themselves against black magic.
In Bombay the traders do not make any payments in the Bombay Stock Exchange, but a token bidding is performed. In Bengal, people light candles in memory of their deceased ancestors. In Goa, berries are crushed with one’s bare feet to symbolize the killing of Narakasura. Next year the Diwali celebrations will fall around November 5th on the solar calendar. I encourage everyone to make an effort to take a trip to India and experience the bright and interesting cultural celebrations that India has to offer. Maybe I’ll see some of you there next year!