5 Interesting things you didn't know about diwali
Diwali/Deepavali is known for celebration, crackers and new clothes. While all of us look forward to the grand festival, I have asked people these questions and most often people are amazed at the answers. So we decided to compile this as an article and we are quite sure you will find it interesting too.
First: Do you know which countries celebrate Diwali?
Of course India but did you know that in total 10 countries declare it as a public holiday?
- Diwali or Deepavali is a public holiday in Pakistan (Sindh Province), Nepal, Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, Guyana, Mauritius, Fiji, Sri Lanka, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago
- Diwali is also celebrated in Nepal and is referred to as ‘Tihar’ or ‘Swanti’. On the fourth day, the Hindu God of death, Yama is worshipped for a longer life of the people.
- In Malaysia, Diwali is celebrated as ‘Hari Diwali’ in the month of Ashwayuja. It is a national public holiday in Malaysia.
Second : And did you believe Diwali is celebrated only by Hindus?
Well, diwali is recognised by 4 religions.
- Diwali is also a significant festival for the Sikhs since 1577 as the foundation stone of the Golden Temple was laid on the day of Diwali.
- Lord Mahavira attained his Moksha or Nirvana on the day of Diwali, and so the Jain community in India celebrates the next day of Diwali as New Year’s Day.
- The Newar Buddhists in Nepal celebrate the Diwali festival over five days, in the same way and on the same days as Hindus do.
Third : Do you know when fireworks came into picture?
- The earliest documentation of fireworks dates back to 7th century China (time of the Tang Dynasty), where they were invented.
- The fireworks were used to accompany many festivities. It is thus a part of the culture of China and had its origin there; eventually it spread to other cultures and societies.
- The first known use of Fireworks for celebrations in India goes back to the 16th century.
- And some of the biggest fireworks celebrations happen in UK and USA: Guy fawkes day is celebrated in UK on 05th Nov with a major fireworks display. And 04th of July, the independence day in USA is a major fireworks event with big cities competing with each other on the grandeur of the display.
Fourth : Did you think Diwali is a one day affair?
This one stumped most of the young generation we asked. Fact is Diwali is celebrated as a 5 day festival.
- The first day of Diwali is called Dhan Teras (Dhanvantari Triodas), and it marks the official beginning of the Diwali festivities.
- The second day of Diwali week is called the Kali Chaudas or Narak Chaturdasi. In some parts of India, it is simply the Choti Diwali, the day before Diwali.
- The third day of these festivities is the actual Diwali/ Deepawali, when Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped, along with Lord Ganesha. People light diyas and candles in their homes, and the streets all across India light up with millions of sparklers, crackers and fairy lights.
- The fourth day is celebrated in various forms all across India. In the Western states of India like Gujarat this day is celebrated with great pomp and show as Bestu Baras, the New Year as per their Calendar
- The fifth day of Diwali festivities is celebrated as the Bhai Dooj or Bhai Beej or Bhai Teeka/ Tilak or Bhai Fota (In Bengal). Brothers visit their sisters on this day, and the sisters celebrate and prepare sweets specially in honour of their brothers, wishing a long, happy, healthy life and great success for them.
Fifth : Do people actually gamble during Diwali?
Yes and found to be more popular in North India.
- Gambling during Diwali is believed to bring good luck and prosperity in the year ahead.
- Dice games were popular in ancient India, and it has been suggested that Diwali, which also ended the harvest season, was one of the few times when a hard-working farmer had some money to spend and some free time, and could enjoy life and play dice or bet money.