Diwali is here, and we thought it would be beneficial for more to learn about India’s biggest and most important holiday. India has a long history with cannabis, so much so that their deity Shiva will often sip on the cannabis-infused beverage Bhang to help his meditative and spiritual practices. Putting cannabis aside, here’s what you should know about the biggest festival in India.
Diwali’s name comes from the row (avali) of clay lamps (diya or deepa), which Indians will light outside of their home to represent inner light and serve as protection from spiritual darkness.
Diwali is celebrated every fall around the new moon within the Hindu months of Asvina and Kartika. The holiday does not land on specific dates simply because the Hindu religious calendar is a lunar calendar, different from most civic and national solar calendars.
Diwali first originated to mark the last harvest before winter. Indians would seek the blessings of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth while closing their accounting books and praying for success in the new financial year. The tradition is still present today, and the first day of the new financial year is marked on the fourth day of Diwali, a five-day celebration.
Many believe that Lakshmi wanders the Earth searching for homes to be welcomed in, which is when Indians will open their doors, windows, and light lamps to invite the goddess inside. There are a few different interpretations of Diwali, depending on the region.
Northern India celebrates the story of Rama’s return to the ancient city of Ayodhya after defeating Ravana by lighting rows of clay lamps. Southern India celebrates Diwali as the day when Krishna defeated Narakasura. Finally, Western India marks Diwali as the day where Vishnu sent Bali to rule the netherworld.
During the five-day celebration, the first day of Diwali is celebrated by cleaning and renovating homes and business; some will even purchase gold, silver, or new kitchen utensils as it’s seen as lucky. On day two, people will decorate their homes with clay lamps and designs called rangoli.
Day three is the festival’s main day; it’s where families gather for Lakshmi puja, a prayer to the goddess of wealth, Ganesh, the elephant-headed god of wisdom, and Kuber, the lord of wealth. They will then celebrate with feasts, music, and fireworks. The fourth day of Diwali marks the first day of the new year; friends and relatives will visit each other with gifts and give their best wishes for the forthcoming season.
Finally, the fifth day of Diwali honors siblings, where brothers and sisters celebrate the new year with food, gifts, and parties. It’s truly a beautiful holiday, and we’re wishing Indians the best of luck in the new year and a happy Diwali!