The Indian subcontinent has long been known as a land of ostentatious and elaborate festivities spanning many days, incorporating various cultures and traditions. Since the landscape of this area is so vast and the number of religions and communities so immense, there are several significant festivals to choose from.
These festivals not only represent a single religion or culture but, in many ways, highlight the essence of the people residing in this land. No other festival is as prominent and widespread as Diwali, the festival of light, which is significantly associated with India and its people by the rest of the world!
The History of Diwali
Diwali holds a special place in people's hearts as it is not only a grand festival that takes place every year but also signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and the triumph of righteousness.
Like most festivals, Diwali or Deepavali has a long and glorious history. Originating in ancient India, the rituals and customs have both undergone significant changes and, at the same time, remain the same.
The rituals and observations change according to the region of the country. Localized festivals and ceremonies, like worshiping specific deities, are also associated with Diwali, but the general theme is light and illumination.
From the celebration of Lord Ram to the worship of the Goddess Kali to revering the deity of wealth and prosperity, Lakshmi, Diwali encompasses mainly every Hindu religious figure.
Additionally, the customs are significantly different in Southern India, where people celebrate and worship independently. As you can see, Diwali is a pan-Indian festival that unites this vast land.
When is Diwali in 2023?
According to the Hindu calendar, Diwali is all set to be celebrated on the 12th of November this year with great fanfare. Since it’s not a single-day festival but spans nearly a week, here’s a detailed schedule for all the Diwali festivities this year:
- Dhanteras - 10 November 2023
- Choti Diwali - 11 November 2023
- Diwali - 12 November 2023
- Goverdhan Puja - 13 November 2023
- Bhai Dooj - 14 November 2023
This year, Diwali will bring joy and festivities like no other, primarily because of the extended nature of the holiday. Moreover, Diwali commemorates a festive time when families and communities come together and celebrate life and belonging. We’ll discuss the significance and importance in detail below.
Significance of Diwali
There’s no doubt that Diwali is intrinsically associated with religion and spirituality. The message of illumination over darkness, good over evil resonates with every person, irrespective of whether they are religious or not.
More importantly, it allows them to be closer to those they love and admire. Families, friends, and other loved ones come together to illuminate diyas and spend quality time with each other.
There’s a broad exchange of gifts, sweets, and other pleasantries, and people wholeheartedly embrace the occasion as, for many, it is the only time of the year when they are free. So they enjoy this festival as a much-needed break. Diwali is also the time when people connect with their spiritual selves and embody the festival's spirit to make necessary changes in their lives if everything is not appropriate. Overall, the spiritual essence of Diwali makes it a significant celebration.
It goes without saying that if you ask anyone in the world for a summary of Diwali, the first thing they’ll most probably say is the decorative qualities. Diwali is universally known as the festival of lights. The decorations and aesthetics associated with Diwali are unlike any other festival.
Mostly, every house is beautifully decorated with bright lights and diyas in this period, and several different themes and patterns followed. Indians, home and abroad, ensure that their houses are well-lit so that the essence of the festival is intact.
Additionally, art decorations adorn the floor and walls of households, with various kinds of rangoli designs being used. Diwali has an aesthetic of its own, and it’s renowned worldwide. Some of the most common decorative means associated with Diwali are:
- Flowers and Candles
Festivals and art have always been equally connected. Specific artistic decorations and themes distinguish any celebration, and Diwali is no different.
Diyas of various shapes and sizes are used to illuminate specific surroundings. Depending on their requirements, people use everything from brass, clay, and antique diyas to symbolize the festival of light.
Additionally, various themes of decorative rangoli patterns are created using multiple materials to beautify floors and walls. As with every art, every rangoli signifies a specific meaning and tells a different story. Diwali is also the time when household cleaning is done to welcome the festive season.
The confluence between art and tradition is most prominent during Diwali, as everyone is in a festive mood, and their joy and delight are expressed through various art forms.
As with many festivals in India, Diwali is not just restricted to the Hindu community. Even though it’s a strictly Hindu festival, it’s wholeheartedly celebrated by people of all religions and communities.
People, along with their families, share gifts, meals, and other pleasantries during the festival, and their a general feeling of closeness and affection in the air which is extended by everyone.
Some rituals also dictate that people pay homage to their departed ones and remember them during the festive time. Additionally, there are other festivals in and around the same time that share the same messages of love and harmony, like:
- Bandi Chor Divas
- Lord Mahavira’s attainment of Nirvana
Since Diwali is such a massive festival that encompasses the entire country, the economics associated with it are also highly significant. For businesses, small and big, Diwali is a time of great economic activity as there is a large purchase and sale of goods and services.
Additionally, in Hindu traditions, it’s considered highly auspicious to buy specific items during this period; hence, the declaration of sales and offers by various merchant outlets to entice buyers. The spike in production and sales is so high that the country's overall economy receives a boost during this time.
Despite the customary inflation and deflation, Diwali always constitutes a prosperous time for everyone involved in commerce.
Moreover, in many regional calendars, the financial year begins with the advent of Diwali, and merchants organize their books accordingly.
As discussed above, the cultural, religious, and economic significance associated with Diwali are immense. The importance of this festival in Indian society can never be fully comprehended.
Whether it’s bringing people together, creating distinct art forms, or boosting the country’s economy, Diwali has a role in every aspect. But the most crucial theme of the festival remains the message of togetherness and harmony it sends to broader society.