Diwali – a five day celebration | Latest news

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Diwali – a five day celebration

diwali

Today staff and patients from across our Trust will be celebrating Diwali – one of the main annual events celebrated by Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities to mark new beginnings and light over evil.

Public traditions and festivities have been reintroduced this year as lockdown restrictions have lifted, which means those celebrating will be able to celebrate safely.

Specialist Clinical Psychologist at UHDB, Dr Jayshree Avasthy, shares the meaning behind Diwali and the traditions she follows as a Hindu to help staff, patients and the communities we serve understand its cultural and religious significance.

Jayshree on Diwali

She said: “Diwali is referred to as the festival of light and symbolises good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. It is celebrated over five days that straddle the new moon during the Hindu month of Kartik, with each day comprising of specific cultural rituals and traditions.

“These five days will be celebrated slightly differently in different parts of India, depending on the cultures that exist within different states.

“Leading up to Diwali, it is essential for Hindus to prepare their homes by deep cleaning them, decorating with diyas (ghee filled candles) and rangoli patterns (colourful powders that are used to create intricate patterns.”

Day One – Dhanteras

The first day is called ‘Dhanteras’ where families clean their homes in preparation to welcome the Hindu Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity, Laxmi. Prayers are made and diyas are lit to welcome the Goddess into the home and ward away negative energy. It is customary to make a purchase of gold or metal on the day and offer to charity.

Day Two – Kalu Chaudas or Narak Chaturdasi

On this day, the mythical devil named Narak was destroyed by Lord Krishna. This day is considered as the equivalent to Halloween. The meaning behind this is to promote more successful and happier ways of living and cleansing away any bad energy. Food is also offered too.

Day Three – Diwali

This day is celebrated on the new moon in the month of Kartik. It is the main day that is celebrated by Hindus and those from other religions. Families will get together to pray, exchange food, gifts and blessings. Others may also mark the festivities with firework displays and sparklers. New clothes should be worn on this day to represent a fresh start.

Day Four – Betsus Varas

Depending on where you are from, this day is celebrated differently. Western states, such as the Gujarat, call this New Year’s Day. It is celebrated by honouring the different tools, equipment and knowledge from books that enable us to earn a living. Many businesses are closed on this day and large offerings of food are made to places of worship where many Hindus will then feast together. Again, it is customary to wear new clothes to represent a fresh start and make promises for the year ahead.

Day Five – Bhai Dooj

Finally, this day is an important one for siblings. Brothers will visit their sister’s homes to perform rituals and exchange gifts. For example, sisters will place a red ‘tilak’– a dot from red powder – onto their brother’s head, tie a sacred thread on their wrist to symbolise her blessings and brothers will promise to protect their sisters. This is followed by a prayer and ends with a meal together, as well as an exchange of gifts to mark their appreciation.

Jayshree added: “Diwali is truly a very special time of year that is best enjoyed with loved ones. The traditions, rituals, food and rejoicing together create wonderful memories for all.

"Happy Diwali!"