Diwali in different countries

Diwali is India’s biggest festival and is celebrated with great enthusiasm around the country. But India isn’t the only place that celebrates Diwali. While the UK and the US are two other countries where Diwali is celebrated on a large scale thanks to the presence of a large Indian population, Diwali is a more recent addition to the culture of these two superpowers. Besides these, here are few other countries that also celebrate Diwali with almost as much enthusiasm as India.

1. Indonesia

floating lanterns

Diwali, also known as Hari Diwali in Malaysia, is celebrated almost all over the county. The festival begins with the traditional ritual of bathing in oil before dawn, following which prayers are said and visits are made to temples. Malaysia observes a public holiday on the day and even though fireworks are banned here, the brilliantly lit-up streets and houses make up for its absence of fireworks.

3. Fiji

water lanterns

Just as in India, Fiji celebrates Diwali with enormous zeal. People shop new clothes, exchange gifts and sweets with their loved ones, clean their houses and beautify their homes with numerous decorations and lights. Various schools and universities also host Diwali parties.

4. Nepal

lord rama

Diwali, known as Tihar in Nepal, is celebrated to honor Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and Ganesha, the lord of new beginnings. The festivities in Nepal last for five days and each day has its very own significance. The first day is dedicated to cows, who are fed and prayed to. The second day is in honor of dogs, who are fed specially-prepared delicious meals. Lanterns and lamps are lit on the third day of the festival to signify the victory of lord Rama. The fourth day is dedicated to the lord of death, Yama and finally the fifth final day,  known as Bhai Dooj celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters.

5. Guyana

diya

The Republic of Guyana in South America celebrates Diwali as per the Hindu calendar and also observers a national holiday. The origin of the festival in Guyana dates back to around the early 1980s and holds a special significance for its Hindu community. The celebration, like in all other parts of the world, includes distribution of sweets, illuminating houses, visiting relatives and praying at temples. The distribution of sweet signifies the importance of sharing and the festival marks the triumph of good forces over bad.

6. Sri Lanka

sparkels

Diwali, popularly known as Deepawali in Sri Lanka, is perhaps one of the most widely celebrated festivals of the place. Associated to the epic Ramayana, Sri Lanka celebrates the festival for five whole days by the Hindu Tamilians scattered across the island. The festivities include display of fireworks, lighting of oil lamps and performing various spiritual rituals along with preparation and distribution of various savories among friends and relatives.

7.  Thailand

diwali

Diwali in Thailand is is celebrated under the name of Loi Krathong which means, ‘to float a basket’ and is observed on the full moon day of the 12th month according to the Thai calendar. Sensational display of fireworks take place across the country, hot air balloons made of rice paper are released in the sky and lamps made of banana leaves and candles are set afloat in almost all bodies. Various boat parades and cultural performances are also organised on this day to add an element of entertainment to the festivity.

8. Mauritius

firework

Observed as a public holiday, Diwali in Mauritius is celebrated primarily by the Hindu community that forms over 50 per cent of the total population of the island. The festival not only marks the victory of Rama over Ravana but also commemorates the victory of Krishna over the demon king Narakasura. Earthen lamps are lit outside homes and colourful rangolis are drawn to celebrate the spirit of Diwali

 
 

 

 

6 reasons to celebrate Vijay Dashmi

Shoot-With-Bow-

1. Celebrating the Victory of Lord Rama over Ravana

Vijaya Dashami marks the victory of divine power over demoniac forces. It was on this day that Lord Rama killed the ten-headed Ravana, who had abducted His wife Sitadevi. This day is also known as Dashara in this connection. The word Dashara is derived from two Sanskrit words – dasha (ten) and hara (defeat).  People celebrate this victory of righteousness over evil by burning the effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhakarna and son Meghanada.

The highlights of the event include:

  • Ravana Dahana (burning the effigies of Ravana and Kumbhakarna)
  • Sri Rama Dasha Sahasrarchana (chanting the 10,000 names of Sri Rama) and
  • Gaja Vahana (the presiding Deities, Sri Sri Krishna Balarama adorned in Rama-Lakshmana alankara ride on an elephant)

In North India, performances of the Ramalila (a short version of the epic Ramayana) are very popular on this occasion.  It is also recommended to recite Sundara Khanda from Valmiki Ramayana on this day.

2. Celebrating the Slaying of the Demon Mahishasura

Mahishasura was a powerful demon under whose leadership the asuras waged a war against the demigods and defeated them. The demigods sought the help of Goddess Durga to kill Mahishasura.

Durga Devi, the divine mother, mounted on a lion, fought the mighty demon for nine days and killed him on the tenth day. Vijaya Dashami commemorates this victory of Mother Durga over the demon Mahishasura.

The nine days preceding Vijaya Dashami are celebrated as Navaratri, when Goddess Shakti or Durga is worshipped in her different forms as Durga, Vijaya, Vaishnavi, Kumuda, Chandika, Krishna, Madhavi, Kanyaka, Maya, Narayani, Ishani, Sharada, Ambika and Bhadrakali. In South India, especially in Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Telangana and Karnataka, the Navaratri is celebrated with Golu display (a display of dolls depicting various events from the Puranas, royal processions, weddings, etc.) and the women invite each other to visit their homes to see the Golu display and to participate in bhajans and kirtans. Durga puja is also celebrated with great pomp and pageantry in West Bengal for five-days culminating on the day of Vijaya Dashami. It is the biggest festival in the state and the celebration takes its most glamourous form in Kolkata. Exquisitely crafted and decorated life-size sculptures of Goddess Durga slaying Mahishasura are set up in the temples for worship. On the fifth day, these sculptures are taken in a procession and then immersed in the river.

In Mysuru (Karnataka), Goddess Chamundeshwari (Durga) is carried on a golden throne which is mounted atop a decorated elephant. The procession comprising of colorful tableaux, dance groups, music bands, decorated elephants, horses and camels, starts from the Mysuru Palace and ends at a place called Bannimantapa where the banni (shami) tree is worshipped.

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3. The Worship of the Shami Tree

Why do they worship the shami tree on this day? To know the answer we need to refer the Mahabharata.

The Pandavas lost to the Kauravas in a game of dice and consequently they were banished from the kingdom to live in a forest for 12 years and then remain incognito for one year. After completing 12 years of exile, the Pandavas decided to remain incognito in the kingdom of Virata, disguising themselves for the next one year. Before approaching the king, they wrapped their divine weapons in a cloth and kept it on a high branch of a shami tree near the cremation ground outside the city. According to the Mahabharata, it was on the day of Vijaya Dashami that they successfully completed their one year of incognito life. Arjuna collected the weapons from the shami tree and defeated the Kauravas who attempted to steal the cattle of King Virata. Since that day, shami trees and weapons have been worshiped on the ninth day of Navaratri (a day before Vijaya Dashami) symbolising this particular incident in the Mahabharata.

4. Sarasvati Puja and Vidyarambham

Vijaya Dashami is considered auspicious to begin your learning. The traditional Vidyarambham ceremony observed mainly in Kerala and Karnataka introduces children formally to learning of music, dance, languages and other folk arts. Vidya means knowledge; arambham means beginning. The child is formally initiated into the process of learning by writing a mantra on rice or sand spread in a plate with the help of the father or any other elderly member of the family. Another celebration on this occasion in Kerala and in some parts of Karnataka is the three-day Sarasvati puja in which books are worshiped. On the Ashtami day (eighth day of Navaratri) the books are placed for puja and ceremoniously taken out for reading and writing after worshiping Mother Sarasvati, the Goddess of learning on the day of Vijaya Dashami.

5. The Beginning of the Harvest Season

Vijaya Dashami also marks the beginning of the harvest season.  People seek the blessings of Mother Earth for a good harvest, peace and prosperity.

In the Shreemad Bhagvad Geeta Krishna stresses the importance of performing yajnas: All living beings subsist on food grains. The food grains cannot be produced without rains. Rains are produced by performance of yajna according to one’s duties prescribed in the Vedas which are directly manifested from the Supreme Lord. (Bg 3.14-15)

The demigods are satisfied by such yajna performances and supply the various necessities of life. The rainfall, breeze, sunlight, moonlight, air, water, light, food grains, vegetables, fruits, minerals, and other raw materials required for our manufacturing enterprises are all supplied by the demigod agents of the Supreme Lord. Krishna says that one who enjoys such gifts without offering anything to the demigods in return is certainly a thief. (Bg 3.12)

In India and Nepal, the demigods are worshiped with various offerings and by sacrificial performances (yajnas) and religious rituals at the beginning of every harvest season on the day of Vijaya Dashami. In some parts of the country, people sow pulses, cereals, barley or the nine types of grains (nava dhanya) in a pot and water it every day during Navaratri. The sprouting of these seeds is considered a sign of prosperity.

6. Appearance of Sri Madhvacharya

Sri Madhvacharya is a great Vaishnava acharya who appeared to establish the Dvaita philosophy which reveals the supreme position of Lord Hari (hari sarvottama) as opposed to the Advaita philosophy of Shankaracharya which held the view that the individual souls can attain the position of Narayana.

Also known as Purnaprajna and Anandatirtha, he is the primary acharya in the disciplic succession that stems from Lord Brahma, which is hence known as the Madhva Sampradaya. Sri Madhvacharya took his birth in Pajaka Kshetra near Udupi (Karnataka) on the day of Vijaya Dashami. He travelled to the Himalayas to meet Sri Vyasadeva, the compiler of all Vedic knowledge and receive the transcendental knowledge from him personally.

He established a temple in Udupi dedicated to Lord Krishna. In order to manage the daily sevas and administration of the temple, he founded the Ashta Mathas (eight monasteries) surrounding the temple.

 

 

 

 

 

vision with the purpose

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