Interesting Facts: Diwali Special

Happy Diwali

It’s interesting to know that Diwali is a universal festival. From the name to the practices, celebrating Diwali differs from state to state and country to country. Yet they all have the lamp that lights to bind them into a family.

1. As the knowledge of Sanskrit diminished, the word Deepavali was popularly modified to Diwali, especially in northern India

2. It is believed that Diwali is the day Lord Shiva accepted Shakti into the left half of the form and appeared as Ardhanarishvara (half man, half-women)

3. There is a legend that Diwali commemorates the killing of Narakasura, an evil demon by Lord Krishna’s wife Sathyabhama

4. Did you know that Sikhs also celebrate Diwali to commemorate the laying of the foundation stone for the Golden Temple in 1577. It is also known as Bandi Chhorh Divas and they illuminate their gurdwaras and homes with Deewé (earthen oil lamps) or candles

5. Lord Mahavira, the last of the Jain Tirthankaras, attained nirvana on Diwali day at Pavapuri. According to Jain tradition the chief disciple of Mahavira, Ganadhar Gautam Swami, also attained complete knowledge on this very day, thus making Diwali a really special occasion for the Jains to celebrate

6. In Malaysia, Diwali is known as ‘Hari Diwali’(except in Sarawak & Federal Territory of Labuan). The festival is also celebrated in the Caribbean, especially in Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana. Believe it or not, Diwali is a public holiday in these countries like in India

7. In Nepal, Diwali is known as Tihar and celebrated during the October/November period. Interestingly, on the fourth day Yama, the Lord of Death, is worshipped and appeased

8. Thailand celebrates Diwali under the name of Lam Kriyongh during the same time. Diyas (lamps) made of banana leaves are made and candles are placed on it along with a coin and incense

9. According to the great epic ‘Mahabharat’, it was ‘Kartik Amavashya’, the time Diwali is celebrated, when the Pandavas returned after twelve years of banishment

10. It is also said that on this very day Lord Vishnu rescued Goddess Lakshmi (and married her) from the prison of Demon king Bali and for that reason Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped on the day of Diwali

11. In Mauritius, Diwali celebration is an age-old tradition. It holds special significance for the natives, who believe that Diwali has been celebrated even long before the return of Lord Rama from 14 years of exile and his coronation as the king

12. Diwali celebrations were held in the White House in 2004, the first festival to be marked after US President George W Bush’s re-election

13. On the auspicious day of Diwali, Swami Dayanand Saraswati, founder of Brahma-Samaj, took Samadhi

14. Kashmiri Pandits have been celebrating Diwali for ages now. It is one of their oldest rituals, and in the scripture (Nilmat Puran) Diwali was called Sukhsuptika (means to sleep with happiness)

15. One of the unique rituals that makes Diwali in Orissa different from other parts of the country is the practice of calling upon the spirits of one’s dead ancestors

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