You are here

Diwali

Diwali is a festival of light which originated in South Asia and is celebrated over five days. The dates change every year, but it is always celebrated in October or November and is now celebrated around the world.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercises.

Diwali comes from the word deepavali, which means ‘rows of lighted lamps’. During the festival, these lamps, called diyas, are used everywhere. They symbolise the victory of light over darkness, or good over evil.

Diwali is celebrated differently in different regions and by different religions and is a bank holiday in many countries, including India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius, Fiji, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. It is often considered a Hindu festival, but in fact it is also celebrated by Sikhs, Jains and Newari Buddhists.

Here are some of the things that happen during the five days of Diwali.

Day One – Dhanteras, or Day of Fortune

The first day has a focus on fortune, both good luck and money or valuables. People may wash money to show that they intend to use it to do good in the world. It is also a day for helping people who are not as well off.

It is a lucky day for buying gold and silver and other metals, so people often buy jewellery or cars, or anything made of metal. It is estimated that last year Indians spent about $3.9 billion during Diwali.

People also make sure that their houses are clean, ready to welcome in Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity, in the evening.

Day Two – Naraka Chaturdashi

According to Hindu stories, the demon Narakasura was killed on this day. The day is all about getting rid of anything bad. People get up early and wash and put on clean or new clothes.

Afterwards, they will celebrate by having a special breakfast with their friends and family. This day, also known as Chhoti Diwali, is a day for visiting friends, business associates and relatives, and for exchanging gifts.  

Day Three – Diwali

In most regions, this is the most important day of the festival. It is the last day of the year in many regions of India. The story goes that on this day, Lord Rama rescued his wife, Sita, from the demon Ravana. Candles are lit to celebrate his victory, and to light his way home after the battle. In the evening, people may set off fireworks.

Day Four – Annakut

Annakut means ‘mountain of food’. Hindus prepare a great deal of food and take it to the temple to celebrate the beginning of the new year.

Food is important throughout the period of Diwali, especially traditional sweet treats such as gulab jamun (a very sweet deep-fried doughnut), kheer (a creamy dessert made with rice) or barfi (a sweet made with condensed milk and sugar).

Day Five – Bhai Dhooj

This is the last day of Diwali, and it also sometimes celebrates the relationship between brother and sister. Brothers may visit their married sisters’ homes, and they will take gifts.

A universal symbol

Diwali is celebrated by millions of people in India and across the world. The festival marks different historical events and stories for each faith that celebrates it, but for all the faiths it symbolises the victory of good over evil, and light over darkness, which means something to all of us.

Discussion

Download

Language level

Intermediate: B1

Comments

I find it very hard to talk about the most important festival in my country, because there are many fairs in all regions, which have taken on particular importance on an international scale too. It's enough to mention the "Palio of Siena". The fact is that the local cultures and regional heritages are very significant in Italy, even more than national ones.

I think the most important festival in Colombia could be El carnival de Barranquilla. I don’t know a lot about it. I just know people celebrate it at the beginning of the year, take 4 days and people use costume and get drunk it is all that I know. But in December we do similar things like in text on December 8th we celebrate candles day and at nigh we fill the sidewalk with candles and the street looks shiny and at the end of the year on December 31st at midnight people used to fill a huge ragdoll with fireworks and before the new year they explode it representing a goodbye for all bad thigs that happened is the last year we called “Año viejo”, and the rest is the same food, new clothes and gifts.

I am from Malaysia, a multicultural country. We celebrated many kinds of festivals. The most important festival that I celebrated is Chinese New Year. It is also known as the spring festival in China. It usually falls on January or February in the Gregorian Calendar. Here in Malaysia, Chinese people started to celebrate Chinese New Year in the evening before the first day by having a reunion dinner with families, playing fire works and watching TV galas together. Some people will celebrate throughout the night till the next morning. At the first day of Chinese New Year, friends and relatives travel to visit each other usually in the morning till afternoon. Children, teenager and adults that are not married will be able to receive red packets fill with some money as a sign of blessings from married adults. They wish each other good luck and prosperity after receiving the blessings. Some families prey to their ancestors and deities with lots of traditional Chinese delicacies in the morning on the first day of Chinese New Year. One of the most important dessert is the Chinese rice cake which was done by fermenting steamed rice until they caramelized. Some families will hire a lion dance team to dance in their house as a sign of inviting good luck and fortune for the family. Chinese New Year lasted for 15 days, though the first three days will be highly celebrated with lots of events and activities. The coming lively days will be at 9th for the Hokkiens and the last day at 15th where match- making events are held.

In my country, there are about 12 festivals around the year. Among them, one festival is similar to this Diwali festival. Like Diwali, during Thidinkyut festival we decorate our houses with candle lights. In addition to our houses and proximities, we offer lights to Buddha shrines in our houses, pagodas, their campuses and along the pedestrian walk ways. I think this custom originated in the time of Buddha. At one time before monsoon, Buddha went to Davatimsa_ angelic realm in Buddhism, to preach to angles. One of these angles has been his mother in previous life. Buddha's mother died on seventh day after giving birth to him. Acknowledging her gratitude, Buddha preached Dhamma for three months. After preaching, on the way back to human realm, angels, Brahmans and human beings offer lights to him. From that time onwards, people celebrate as light festival. Thidinkyut festival usually falls in October. At this time, most of the paddy fields turn from green into yellow. All farmers are harvesting in paddy fields. Southwestern monsoon starts to withdraw fron our country and the wrather is generally fine. Most peasants have money because of having just sold rice and beans. During this festival, we pay homage to elder people and in return they pay back snacks and money. We prepare traditional snacks and donate them to monasteries and share to neighbours. In summary, Thidinkyut is one of the happiest festivals held in Myanmar.

The most important festival in my country is 'New year'. The celebration is really some how similar to this Diwali, in this regard people prepare themselves by cleaning their houses, washing their clothes, putting on new clothes,, prepares varieties of foods and desserts, welcoming visitors and giving of gifts to families as well as relations.

With a majority of muslims the biggest festival in my country is the holy month of Ramadan. where muslims fast during the day and eat at the sunset .
This month symbolizes patience, getting closer to God through prayer and fasting,helping the poor and strengthening family attachments.
There are a lot of traditional foods during the month,like for example Tamarind syrup,liqorice syrup,Qamar al din syrup which is an apricot juice from the Arabic cuisine and the Arabic sweet "Katayef" which is a dampling sweet filled with cream or nuts, a;so known as folded pancake .

Hi
I Think there is a mistake in the last paragraph of the article! It should be "light over darkness".

Hello HRN1970,

Yes, you are quite right! Well spotted, and thank you for pointing this out. I'll edit the text accordingly.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

We have some important festivals and events in my country, some of them are religious and some of them back to our old tradition of Iran. In our religion people just learned to cry and be sad all year round, but our traditional festivals are full of love, joy and dance
The most popular festivals in my country are 'Nowruz' , 'Shabe Chele' and '4shanbe Soori' but there are many other traditions that all are cheerful.
In our tradition we had a feast almost in each month of year. All of them have a meaningful and interesting background that most of Persian people don't know anything about them today.

In my country, there are many festivals celebrated such as Durga Puja , the birthday of shri Krishna , dewali, holly, which are celebrated cordially by Hindu religious people. On the other hand, eid-ul-fitar is an important festival for mulims people’. But in my country there are several day which is celebrated with great respect like as 16th December, victory day , 26th march,independence day etc. Personally for me, Durga puja is the most important festival because it is celebrated for five days. First Four days of this festival we will celebrate through praying to durga ma to wear a clean& new clothes , in those day we offer her many sweets, fruits and many this.it is the day that Durga comes to hers fathers house then last 5th day immersion her idol to the water. I really enjoyedthose days.

Pages