October 28, 2016
Deepavali (Diwali) is a huge event with several celebratory events in Sydney. There are several Diwali fairs which take place in Sydney. Things are no different in other cities in Australia.
I have taken part in several events so far. I enjoyed celebrating Diwali with Strathfield Australians of Indian Sub-continental Heritage (SSAISH) in Strathfield Town Hall earlier this month, followed by a Fair by Shree Sanatan Dharm Pratinidhi Sabha of Australia in Liverpool, NSW. This was followed further by attending the Diwali celebration by Bihar and Jharkhand Sabha of Australia in Granville, NSW. There are several evening events happening until 7th November.
I also attended the Diwali celebration, hosted by NSW Government at Museum of Contemporary Arts in Circular Quay, NSW. Premier, Mike Baird described what Deepavali means for Indian Australians, NSW and Australia. Minister for Multiculturalism, John Ajaka and Multicultural NSW Chair, Dr G Harinath spoke as well. Young and popular Liberal MP, Matt Kean was dressed in Sherwani (Indian dress) and Labor MPs, Jodi Mckay and Julia Finn were dressed in beautiful Saris. The iconic Opera House was illuminated in golden colours for the night on 21st October, 2016. The atmosphere was ecstatic and wonderful.
Actual Deepavali falls on Sunday, October 30, and people celebrate it in their homes with traditional worshipping and festivities.
I thought I should outline what Diwali is about for those who might not be aware of the significance of Diwali.
Diwali is the biggest festival of India that celebrates the victory of good over the evil. It symbolizes the age-old culture of India which teaches mankind to vanquish ignorance that subdues humanity and to drive away darkness that engulfs the light of knowledge. Diwali, the festival of lights even today in this modern world teaches us to uphold the true values of life.
“Diwali” is the easy-to-pronounce form of Deepavali or Deepawali. In Sanskrit “Deepavali” is the marriage of two Sanskrit words- Deepa meaning light and Avali, meaning a row. Indeed celebrating the row of lights forms one of Diwali’s main attraction.
While Diwali has a religious significance for an estimated 1 billion Hindus world wide, Diwali is clearly much more than that. It is a truly Indian festival which is celebrated by Indians throughout the world in a joyous mood, with zeal and enthusiasm. Diyas [oil lamp usually made from clay, with a cotton wick dipped in Ghee or vegetable oils] and candles are burnt in every home. People clean their homes, sweets are shared and people wish each other well.
It heralds the beginning of new year as per the Hindu calendar. Diwali is normally celebrated in October or November. As mentioned above, Diwali this year is on Sunday, October 30.
Diwali is also an important event for Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism.
Diwali is truly an Indian festival, not just a Hindu festival!
There are 9 mythical and historical reasons why Diwali is a great time to celebrate. And there are good reasons not just for Hindus but also for all others to celebrate this great Festival of Lights.
1. The Victory of Rama: According to the epic ‘Ramayana’, it was the new moon day of Kartik when Lord Ram, Ma Sita and Lakshman returned to Ayodhya after vanquishing Ravana and conquering Lanka. The citizens of Ayodhya decorated the entire city with the earthen lamps and illuminated it like never before.
2. Special Day for the Sikhs: The third Sikh Guru Amar Das institutionalized Diwali as a Red-Letter Day when all Sikhs would gather to receive the Gurus blessings. In 1577, the foundation stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar was laid on Diwali. In 1619, the sixth Sikh Guru Hargobind, who was held by the Mughal Emperor Jahengir, was released from the Gwalior fort along with 52 kings.
3. Goddess Lakshmi’s Birthday: The Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi incarnated on the new moon day (amaavasyaa) of the Kartik month during the churning of the ocean (samudra-manthan), hence the association of Diwali with Lakshmi.
4. Krishna Killed Narakaasur: On the day preceding Diwali, Lord Krishna killed the demon king Narakaasur and rescued 16,000 women from his captivity. The celebration of this freedom went on for two days including the Diwali day as a victory festival.
5. The Return of the Pandavas: According to the great epic ‘Mahabharata’, it was ‘Kartik Amavashya’ when the Pandavas appeared from their 12 years of banishment as a result of their defeat in the hands of the Kauravas at the game of dice (gambling). The subjects who loved the Pandavas celebrated the day by lighting the earthen lamps.
6. Coronation of Vikramaditya: One of the greatest Hindu King Vikramaditya was coroneted on the Diwali day, hence Diwali became a historical event as well.
7. Special Day for the Arya Samaj: It was the new moon day of Kartik (Diwali day) when Maharshi Dayananda, one of the greatest reformers of Hinduism and the founder of Arya Samaj attained his nirvana.
8. Special Day for the Jains: Mahavir Tirthankar, considered to be the founder of modern Jainism also attained his nirvana on Diwali day.
9. Special day for Buddhism: Newar Buddhists celebrate it because Emperor Ashoka converted to Buddhism on this day.
Dr Yadu Singh