Diwali or Deepavali is a Sanskrit word which means “row of lamps or diya’s”. It is popularly known as the “festival of lights” observed on the 15th day of the month of Kartika in the Hindu calendar.
Diwali is basically a five day festival which starts from Dhanteras (Dhanatrayodashi) and ends on Bhai Dooj (Yama Dvitiya) and is mainly celebrated by Sikhs, Hindus and Jains around the world.
The main celebration of Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps filled with oil, decorated homes with lights and candles, Fireworks, distribution sweets and gifts. It is a lively and sparkling occasion which is full of ecstasy and joy. Diwali is an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore, and Fiji.
Diwali Celebrations Around the World :
Diwali In United States :
Diwali celebrations in USA are akin to that witnessed in India. In US, houses are decorated with earthen lamps and sparkling electronic lights and colorful rangoli. People in US gather in the evenings, at a community hall, where cultural events are organized. Fire crackers are burst and sweets and snacks are distributed among the family and friends. Barack Obama became the first president to personally attend Diwali at the White House in 2009 since the celebration started, in 2003. On the eve of his first visit to India as the President of United States, Obama released an official statement sharing best wishes with “Hindus” for Diwali. The Diwali Mela in Cowboys Stadium boasted an attendance of 100,000 people in 2009. In 2009 San Antonio became the first US city to sponsor an official Diwali celebration including a fireworks display and 5000 people in attendance.
Diwali In UK :
In Britain, Hindus celebrate Diwali with great enthusiasm. They clean and decorate their homes with fancy lights, lamps and candles, wear new clothes, exchange sweets and gifts, different communities gather for a religious ceremony and get-together in which some non-Indians also join. The British city of Leicester is notable for the Diwali extravaganza. The official switch-on ceremony is the highlight of Diwali celebrations in Leicester. It is also an important time to contact family in India. Diwali also coincides with British Bonfire Night traditions on November the 5th. In the East End of London, a kind of joint festival has evolved where everyone enjoys the same fire and fireworks for their own diverse reasons.
Diwali In Mauritius :
Celebration of Hindu festivals is a common sight in Mauritius as about 63% population in Mauritius has Indian origins and 80% of them are Hindus. Much like India Indian people living in Mauritius, earthen lamps are lit in rows and all the other rituals of related to the festival are followed with great enthusiasm like Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped and crackers are burst toward off the evil spirits.
Diwali In Malaysia :
Diwali is known as ‘Hari Diwali’ in Malaysia. This festival is celebrated during the seventh month of the Hindu solar calendar. It is a federal public holiday throughout Malaysia. Diwali is celebrated in most parts of Malaysia, except in the regions of Sarawak and Federal Territory of Labuan. Nearly 8% of the population of Malaysia comprises of Hindus celebrate Diwali. Malaysian people start their Diwali celebrations with the traditional oil bath, visit the temples and offer prayers. Small earthen lamps with coconut oil are lit. ‘Open houses’ are held where Hindu Malaysians welcome fellow Malaysians of different races and religions to their house for a scrumptious meal.
Diwali In Australia :
Diwali in Australia is marked by magnificent display of fireworks. The Indian Australia, celebrates the festival with much pomp and gaiety. They use the opportunity to showcase their unity in diversity and the rich cultural heritage of India. They illuminate their homes with colorful lights and diyas. The first Inaugural Diwali Festival-2002”, was held at Sandown Race Course on Sunday 13th October 2002. Since then until October 2008, about 1,40,000 people visited this Australian Indian Cultural Extravaganza filled with culture, fun and cuisine. This 10 Hour Festival is depicting India through 50 Stalls, 10 Food stalls and an 8 hour cultural programme with DJ, Children’s rides and spectacular fire works over the last 7 years.
Diwali In Nepal :
Diwali is known as “Tihar” or “Swanti” in Nepal and celebrated for five days. The traditions vary from those followed in India. On the first day (Kaag tihar), cows are worshipped and given offerings. On the second day (Kukur tihar), dogs are revered and offered special food. On the third day, Diwali celebrations in Nepal are similar to that in India. On the fourth day Yama, the Lord of Death, is worshipped and appeased. On the fifth and final day, brothers and sisters meet and exchange gifts. People play “Deusi and Bhailo” which is a kind of singing and dancing forming a group by going to all the houses and give blessings to them, whereas the home owner gives gifts like rice, Roti, fruits and money. After the festival, people donate some part of the collected money and food as a charity and with the rest of the money and food, they go for a picnic. People also play swing called Dore Ping made out of thick ropes and Pirke Ping or Rangate Ping made out of wood.
Diwali In Indonesia :
Although the Indonesian Hindus population constitute only 2% of the total population, Diwali is celebrated with much pomp and gaiety. The island of Bali with major Indians, is famous for if Diwali celebrations as they follow the rituals that are native to India which includes lots of light, delicious food, exchange of gifts, fireworks, etc.
Diwali In Sri Lanka :
Diwali is known as “Deepavali” in Sri Lanka. As per the tradition people to take an oil bath in the morning, wear new clothes, exchange gifts, performing Poosai (Pūjā), burn firecrackers and a visit to the Koil (Hindu Temple) on this day. Hindus light oil lamps to invite the blessings of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and to banish any evil from the household. The festival is marked by illumination, making of toys of enamel and making of figures out of crystal sugar popularly known as Misiri. Srilanka’s celebration include many of the traditional aspects of Deepavali such as games, fireworks, singing and dancing, large meal and fireworks are admirably preserved.
Diwali In Trinidad and Tobago :
In Trinidad and Tobago, communities all over the islands get together and celebrate the festival and the celebrations are marked by the colorful display of fireworks ever since 1966. The festival is celebrated for nine days and culminated with a national holiday. One major celebration that stands out is the Diwali Nagar, or Village of the Festival of Lights. People clad themselves in ethnic Indian attire, to take part in the merrymaking. It features stage performances by the east Indian cultural practitioners, a folk theatre featuring skits and plays, an exhibition on some aspect of Hinduism, displays by various Hindu religious sects and social organizations, nightly worship of Lakshmi and lighting of deeyas.
Diwali In Singapore :
In Singapore, Diwali festival is a gazetted public holiday. The Little India district, Serangoon Road where maximum people of Indian community reside are famous for Diwali celebrations. During Diwali, the streets here are filled with families, who are busy shopping for the festival. The archways are decorated with flowers and garlands. Diyas are also lit and apart from the light-up, other activities such as bazaars, exhibitions, parades and concerts will also take place in Little India. The Hindu Endowment Board of Singapore along with Singapores’ government organizes many of these cultural events during this festive period. People visit Hindu temples in Singapore for prayers.
Diwali In Fiji :
The Indo Fijian community decorate their homes with diyas, candles and electric lights are lit. Not only Hindus of the island, non-Hindus also take part in the festivities. Crackers are burst by children. Exchange of sweets and fireworks are part of the celebration.