Hindus throughout the world celebrate Deepavali festival to get their spiritual needs fulfilled and also to enjoy happiness in their secular lives. Although Deepavali is a Hindu religious festival it provides opportunities for jubilation and a sense of togetherness. Deepavali is celebrated regardless of ethnical, social, religious and class differences to ward off darkness of evil and to welcome the light of fortune and prosperity. In Sri Lanka many persons belonging to the Sinhalese community join hands with their counterparts in the Tamil community to celebrate Deepavali. This celebration is not confined to Hindus or Tamils in Sri Lanka because it is an occasion of victory of good over evil.
Defeat of the demon king Narasura
The demon King Narasura had amassed a lot of power and strength by praying. This power and strength had been used by him not for virtuous activities but to bring misery and harassment on his subjects. He was arrogant and tyrannical. Even Devas or deities were unable to bear the sufferings caused by him. People prayed to Lord Krishna to protect the people by liberating them from the wicked hands of King Narasura.
Lord Krishna appeared with his consort Satyabama and killed Narasura. This is called “Narasura Sanharaya.” In his death bed Narasura repented and begged the Lord to direct the world to celebrate his death which was the end of a reign of terror. Since then it became an annual celebration which falls due on the 14th day of the darker half of the month of Aippasi. On the eve of this day Hindus clean their houses early in the morning and take a ritualistic bath.
Deepavali celebrated in Sri Lanka
Deepavali is celebrated with eminent faith by Sri Lankans as a national festival irrespective of religious, racial and other differences. Hindus in Sri Lanka make figures out of crystal sugar which take the place of sweets.
This is a festival of illumination. In the evening of the festive day they light oil lamps to invite the blessings of goddess Lakshmi. Deepavali literary meaning a row of lamps is a festival to symbolize the triumph of good over evil.
Ganga Snana- Ritualistic bath in River Ganges
In India the ritualistic bath is taken in the Holy Ganges – the sacred river Ganga. They call it Ganga Snana. They believe that they are blessed with the bath. They engage in prayers.
Deepavali, an age-old traditional festival in Mauritius
Deepavali is an age-old traditional festival in Mauritius and is significant for natives who believe that Deepavali had been celebrated even long before the return of Rama from fourteen years of exile and his coronation as the king.
“Tihar”-the name given to Deepavali in Nepal
In Nepal, Deepavali is known as Tihar and is celebrated to honour the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi and the God of prosperity, Ganesha. In this country the festival is continued for five days. The first day is set apart and dedicated to cows. People cook rice and feed the cows believing that goddess Lakshmi comes on a cow.
The second day is set apart for dogs as the dog is regarded as the vehicle of Bairavaya. Delicious food is prepared specially for dogs on this day.
On the third day the entire surrounding is illuminated with lights special kinds of food are prepared. Fireworks, oil lamps and crackers are used in the celebrations. The fourth day is dedicated to Yama, the Hindu God of death. Devotees invoke him for long life and prosperity.
The fifth day is dedicated for long life and prosperity.
Deepavali celebrations in Japan - Lamps made of Banana Leaves
In Japan, Deepavali is celebrated in a unique way. Here the people go out to orchards and gardens and hang lanterns made of Banana leaves, cloth and paper. People sing and dance throughout the night. They wear new clothes on the festive day and go on boating trips. They clean their abodes and decorate the places of worship.
‘Lam Krilangh’ - Deepavali in Thailand
In Thailand, Deepavali is known as Lam Krilangh. Devotees use Diyasare (lamps) made of Banana leaves for illumination. These lamps with candles lit in them are floated in rivers. They also put coins to these Diyas and incense is burnt which produces a sweet smell. People greet one another and exchange good wishes.
Deepavali celebrations in Thailand- Bali Island
In the island of Bali in Indonesia, Deepavali is celebrated on a grand scale as the majority of the population in this island is of Indian origin. Rituals followed by Hindus in this island are mostly similar to those followed in India.
Hari Deepavali in Malaysia
Malaysians call this festival Hari Deepavali. The South Indian tradition of oil bath precedes the festival. Devotees go to temples and also pray at their homes. Small lamps made of clay are filled with coconut oil and lit on the Deepavali day. This festival is celebrated in most parts of Malaysia and the traditions followed are mostly those followed in the Indian subcontinent.
Deepavali in Great Britain
In Great Britain it is the cold, damp and windy season when the Deepavali festival is celebrated by the migrant Hindus from India and other Eastern countries. In spite of the snowy, chilly and damp climate Deepavali is celebrated in Great Britain especially because Indians form the second highest ethnic minority group in that country.
Deepavali in modern times
Nearly one hundred thousand Indians have settled down in Australia and they make Deepavali a grand festival in that country. Although the non-availability of material is a problem for Hindus in Australia they manage to celebrate the festival by giving it some modernity substituting electricity for traditional oil lamps.
Deepavali is celebrated in many other countries such as Africa, Netherlands, Canada, Myanmar, Singapore, Trinidad, United Arab Emirates and Tobago.
Four days preceding the new moon day, the day of new moon and the day following are the days on which Deepavali is celebrated. Special poojas for Goddess Lakshmi take place with offerings including coins, especially silver coins, believing that they will be endowed with wealth and prosperity.
Blessings of Goddess Lakshmi
Deepavali is celebrated to invite the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi, the giver or the provider of peace, prosperity fertility, beauty, fragrance, wealth, love and many other virtues of compassion and satisfaction. She is the wife of God Vishnu who is a Bodhisattva according to the Buddhist literature. It is believed that Goddess Lakshmi is anxious to bless the devoted Hindus and Buddhists. The principles related to Deepavali teach us to uphold the true value of life.