Tamil Nadu » Tamil Nadu Festivals » Diwali
(also transliterated Deepavali; Sanskrit: row of lights) or Diwãli
(contracted spelling) is the Hindu festival of lights, held on the final
day of the Hindu calendar (compare New Year's Eve). The following day,
marking the beginning of a new year, is called Annakut.
Diwali, the festival of lights, is held
throughout India. In Kerala, this is celebrated only by Hindus. It falls
on the preceding day of the New Moon in the Malayalam month Thulam (October-November).
It is celebrated in commemoration of the destruction of the demon called
Narakasura by Lord Krishna. As Lord Krishna killed Narakasura
on the Chaturdasi day (the fourteenth lunar day) it is also known as Narakachaturdasi.
Before sunrise, all in the house have their oil bath and put on new cloths. Sweets are then served followed by bursting of crackers.
The word 'Diwali' means
an array of lights. The people of Dwaraka greeted Lord Krishna with illumination
and rejoicing in honour of his victory over Narakasura. The darkness of
the Chaturdasi night compelled them to use many lamps
on the occasion, and subsequently the illumination became a part of this
It is celebrated by Hindus all over the
world, every year. On the day of Diwali old and young,
rich and poor wear new dresses and share sweets. They also burn crackers.
The traditional business community starts their financial new year on
new account books are opened on this day. There are two mythological legends
associa ted with Dipavali. The first Dipavaliwas held to celebrate the
return of the Rama, King of Ayodhya, his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana
to Koshala after a war in which he killed the demon Ravana. It was getting
dark, so people along the way lit oil lamps to light their way. Second,
it commemorates the killing of Narakasura, who was also an evil demon.
So Dipavali is a festival symbolising the destruction of evil forces.
are various legends relating to Dipavali as also different ways of celebrating
in different parts of India. Dipavali is celebrated over 5 days in most
of north India as:
narak chaudas - chhoTii diwali
deepawali - ba.Dii diwali
In South India, naraka chaturdashii
is the main day of celebration with lot of fire crackers at dawn while
in North India the main celebration is on Amavasya evening with Lakshmi
Puja followed by lighting of oil lamps in and around the house and bursting
of crackers. In England, the days are Dhanteras, Narak Chatrudashi, Lakshmu-Puja,
the most important day, Padwa or Varshapratipanda and Bhaiya Dooj or the
Teeka Ceremony. The time is also significant to Sikhs. During the festival
time in 1620 the 6th Guru, Hargobind Singh gained the release of 52 Hindu
princes who had been falsely imprisoned in Gwallior Fort by the rulers
of the area, the Mughals. The Golden Temple was lit with many lights to
welcome the release of [Guru Hargobind]] and Sikhs have continued the
In recent years there has been a some criticism
about the celebration of Diwali in India. The most
common reason is the noise pollution caused by crackers, which particularly
affects infants, pets and older people whose sleep can also be disrupted
by firecracker noise that continues late into the night.
noise from crackers has a more deleterious effect on animals since they
have a more sensitive sense of hearing than humans. Pets like dogs and
cats as well as stray cattle in cities spend the Diwali days in a state
of confusion. Voluntary and non-profit organizations like People for Animals
educate the public about these issues. Additionally, Smog is extremely
common on the morning after Diwali, and may be harmful to inhale and
causes difficulty for drivers through reduced visibility. Diwali can
often be treated by some as an opportunity to show off their status or
purchasing power. This competitive approach encourages the use of ever
larger and noisier fireworks.
there have been several governmental and legal efforts to combat the menace.
The Supreme Court of India, observing that the "right to peaceful
sleep is a fundamental right of the citizens", has banned crackers
between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am during the Dasara and Diwali festivals.
While strict enforcement of this ban is not yet in place, the effect has
nevertheless been very positive. The Central Pollution Control Board has
banned fire-crackers with a decibel level of more than 125 at a distance
of 4 meters from the bursting point. There have also been state-level
efforts to ban the very loud "1000-walas" and "hydrogen
There have been efforts by some non-governmental
organisations to educate school children about the ills of firecrackers,
because it is understood that children are the ones who influence their
parents to purchase them and are the ones who eventually light them. The
cumulative effect of these actions has been a noticeable reduction of
noise during Diwali.
is also the issue of child labor in the fireworks industry whose main
centre in India is Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu. Children as young as three
or four (the average is 10-14) work in harsh conditions, and about a third
of them are in debt bondage. There is some public awareness of this problem,
but the longstanding issue of child labor in India is larger than the
context of Diwali alone.