Diwali, or Deepawali, fondly referred to as the “Festival of Lights,” is a time when millions across the globe light up their homes and hearts, signifying the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. Celebrated primarily by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists, this festival has transcended religious boundaries and has been adopted and celebrated by people of various backgrounds worldwide. With Diwali 2024 just around the corner, let’s delve deep into the heart of this festival, its dates, significance, and the unique traditions surrounding each of its five days.
When is Diwali in 2024?
In 2024, Diwali will be celebrated on Thursday, 9th November. However, Diwali isn’t just a one-day event. It’s a series of celebrations spanning five days, with each day holding its unique significance and traditions. Let’s embark on a journey through these five days.
1. Day One: Dhanteras – 30th October 2024
Significance: The first day, known as Dhanteras, marks the beginning of Diwali celebrations. “Dhan” translates to wealth, and on this day, devotees worship Lord Dhanvantari, the god of health, and pray for well-being and prosperity.
Traditions: Many believe that purchasing metals, primarily gold or silver, on Dhanteras brings luck and prosperity. Homes and businesses are cleaned and decorated, and traditional rangoli artworks are crafted on doorsteps as a welcoming gesture for the gods.
2. Day Two: Naraka Chaturdashi or Choti Diwali – 31st October 2024
Significance: Naraka Chaturdashi or Choti Diwali is the second day of the festivities. The day commemorates the defeat of the demon Narakasura at the hands of Lord Krishna.
Traditions: Ritual baths are taken before sunrise, often with oil and ubtan (a traditional cleansing mixture). Homes are further adorned with oil lamps and rangoli. Sweets and delicacies are also prepared for the main Diwali celebrations.
3. Day Three: Diwali or Deepawali – 1th November 2024
Significance: The third day is the pinnacle of the festivities, Diwali itself. It is believed that on this day, Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana, leading the city to light lamps in celebration.
Traditions: Homes and public spaces are illuminated with thousands of diyas (oil lamps), candles, and electric lights. Families gather to worship the goddess Lakshmi, the deity of wealth and prosperity. Fireworks light up the night sky. It’s also a time for gift exchanges and feasting on traditional treats.
4. Day Four: Annakut or Govardhan Puja – 2th November 2024
Significance: Annakut, also known as Govardhan Puja, celebrates the incident where Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhan Hill to protect the villagers from incessant rains.
Traditions: Devotees prepare a mountain of food, symbolizing the Govardhan Hill, and offer it to Lord Krishna. In many communities, cows, considered sacred, are worshipped on this day.
5. Day Five: Bhai Dooj – 3th November 2024
Significance: Bhai Dooj celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters. It’s similar to Raksha Bandhan but has its own unique traditions.
Traditions: Sisters apply tilak (a colored mark) on their brothers’ foreheads and pray for their well-being. In return, brothers offer gifts and promise to protect their sisters.
The Universal Appeal of Diwali
Though rooted in ancient Indian traditions, Diwali’s message of light overcoming darkness and good triumphing over evil has a universal resonance. Over the years, its celebrations have spilled over into communities worldwide. Major cities globally host Diwali parades, fairs, and events, making it a global phenomenon.
Diwali, with its rich tapestry of history, myth, and modern-day celebrations, is a testament to the human spirit’s enduring hope and joy. As Diwali 2024 approaches, it serves as a reminder to cherish our loved ones, embrace the light, and continue the journey towards enlightenment and self-improvement. Whether you’re celebrating all five days or just lighting a single diya, may the spirit of Diwali illuminate your path.