Malaysia has long been known for its multiculturalism. Every year we celebrate an array of festivals and celebrations, bringing together every Malaysian and fostering the spirit of unity. Among the many unique celebrations is Diwali or Deepavali, celebrated by our Hindu brothers and sister. Here are eight facts about Deepavali that you might have not known about.
Deepavali Fact 1: Meaning of Deepavali
Deepavali means ‘row of lights’ in Hindi, hence commonly known around the world as the ‘Festival of Lights’. This holiday traces back to the tales and adventures of Rama, who was destined to become king but was banished before he could claim the throne for 14 years.
Deepavali Fact 2: Differing significance
The religious significance of Deepavali varies regionally within India and many parts of the world, depending on the school of Hindu philosophy, regional myths, legends, and beliefs. Some follow the sacred story of the reunion of Rama with Sita stated in the sacred book of Mahabrata, whereas others believe it is to celebrate Krishna’s victory over Narakasura, the demon of ignorance. There are also those who believe that Diwali is a celebration for the marriage of Lakhsmi and Lord Vishnu. In Bengal, located in the Western part of India, Diwali is dedicated to worship the dark goddess of strength called Kali, while other parts of India believe that it is to worship Lord Ganesha (elephant-headed God) who signifies auspiciousness and wisdom.
Deepavali Fact 3: Not just mere rice on the floor
Those decorations (kolam or rangoli) in shopping malls and by the door of Indian households are not just mere decorations made from coloured rice. They are visual form of prayers to the Goddess Lakshmi , the goddess of good fortune. Such lengthy efforts are done to welcome her into households and request for her blessings.
Deepavali Fact 4: Diyas (Lamps)
Similar to kolams and rangolis and in significance to “the festival of lights”, diyas are more than just mere lightning to illuminate the night skies. There is significance of the return of Rama to find his way back to his kingdom, which he was exiled from for 14 years. In those years, he also set out on a journey to reclaim his wife Sita, from the clutches of Ravana and throughout Forest of Ayodhya.
Deepavali Fact 5: Somewhat global celebration
Deepavali is celebrated in many parts of the world. Among them include Malaysia, India, Fiji, Singapore, Guyana, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Surinam, Fiji, Trinidad and Tobago, England and United States of America. However, it is optional celebration in Pakistan.
Deepavali Fact 6: The Tradition of Gambling on Deepavali
The tradition of gambling on Deepavali has a legend or history behind it. It is said to bring prosperity and good luck for the forthcoming year. There is a history saying that Goddess Parvati played dice with Lord Shiva, her husband on this day. Upon her win in that game of dice, she decreed that whoever gambled during the night of Deepavali would be blessed with prosperity throughout the whole year. Moreover, much like many celebrations in Malaysia, Deepavali is also associated with blessings of wealth and prosperity.
Deepavali Fact 7: Clean, clean and clean!
During Chinese New Year, houses are not to be swept or clean. This is because of the belief that it would be sweeping the wealth away. The same thing can be said for Deepavali as well. To welcome the New Year in the Indian calendar, it is considered auspicious to clean on the eve of Deepavali.
Deepavali Fact 8: Beginning anew
In business terms, Deepavali signifies a new term for businesses. This practice is more relatable to many parts in motherland India. This means businesses would start new accounting books. Farmers also end their harvesting season with Deepavali signalling the coming of winter in some parts of the world.
CatchThatBus wishes all of you readers a Happy Deepavali. May this Deepavali be a festival of joy for you!