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Diwali — the Festival of Lights

Diwali Festival is more popularly referred to as Narak Chaturdasi in Goa

Diwali is one of the biggest religious festivals in India. Hindus celebrate by bursting firecrackers, lighting diyas or lamps, cleaning and decorating their homes, buying new clothes, and by making hand-painted rangoli designs in their living rooms and courtyards. Prayers are offered to Goddess Lakshmi for prosperity. Diwali signifies the victory of good over evil. The festival marks the return of Lord Rama after defeating the demon King Ravana. Bonfires are lit to burn away evil spirits.

Diwali is celebrated throughout the country over 5 days, between the middle of October and early November. The dates vary by a few days every year. Goa is mostly Christian, but Diwali is still a big festival here.

Diwali in 2019 will start on Sunday, October 27th, and will continue for 5 days till Thursday, the 31st of October.

Diwali in India

Diwali in India

Diwali in India

India is a huge country with many customs, traditions, and festivals, which differ from one part of the country to another. But this is one festival that truly unites the country. It is celebrated throughout India, including Goa. Outside of India too, Hindus celebrate Diwali.

There are many customs and traditions of the festival. Homes are cleaned and decorated with lamps and rangolis, offices and shops are also repaired and cleaned, families give away gifts, offer prayers to Goddess Lakshmi for good luck and prosperity, the streets are decorated with lights, and people burn firecrackers loudly. Homes and businesses will buy new things during the festival, as this is deemed auspicious.

Diwali is about celebrations, the coming together of family and friends, and also the victory of good over evil. In many places, especially in North India, and in some areas of the west, east, and the south, it is the main festival.

The Victory of Good over Evil

Diwali or Deepavali (in Sanskrit), means “row of lights”. This is a 5-day festival held by the Hindus late in the month of October or early November. It is popular even with the non-Hindus.

Diwali marks the victory of good over evil, or the victory of brightness over darkness. It marks the return of Lord Rama to his home in Ayodhya with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana after defeating the demon king Ravana (the story of the Hindu epic Ramayana). It is believed that the residents of Ayodhya lit oil lamps along the way to light up the path of Lord Rama as he returned home victorious. It is also celebrated to mark the defeat of the evil king Narkasur.

Dussehra marks the celebration of victory of good over evil, of Rama over Ravana

Victory of Rama over Ravana

Children and adults will burst firecrackers. Many also wear new clothes, visit their relatives and friends and share sweets. People visit temples to offer prayers to the Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi. In the business community, Diwali is the start of the new financial year.

Different communities will celebrate Diwali for different reasons, but the customs and traditions are often the same. For instance, the Jains celebrate it for attaining “moksha”, and the Sikhs for the release of Guru Hargobind from prison.

Diwali in Goa is a big religious event. It is celebrated over 5 days in October or November, with the Naraka Chaturdashi day being the most important.

Diwali Highlights

What is Diwali?

A Hindu religious festival, celebrated throughout India, and also in Goa. It celebrates the victory of good over evil. It is also called Deepavali (the original Sanskrit word).

When is Diwali?

The festival is celebrated in October or November. However, the exact dates vary by a few days every year.

How is Diwali celebrated?

Homes, streets, and temples are decorated with lights. Bursting of firecrackers. Rangoli painting in homes. Stalls sell firecrackers.

Children and adults wear new clothes. Food and sweets are distributed. People visit their friends and the homes of relatives, and even neighbors. Prayers are offered for good fortune and wealth. New utensils are purchased as it is a good omen. Colorful rangoli images can be seen on the floors of homes.

Street parades

There are street parades in Goa with large figures of the demon king Narkasur. These figures are constructed with paper and straw and are often more than 20-25 feet in height. The parades head to open grounds where the figure of Narkasur is lit up. Everyone cheers as it goes up in flame. A lot of firecrackers are also burst.

Lanterns

Many assemble on the banks of rivers to set up small lanterns on boats or tiny rafts. They then watch with interest as the craft floats down the stream.

In the business community

Start of the new business year.

For tourism in Goa

The peak tourist season starts just after Diwali. The long Indian summer is gone. There is little rain. Most tourists will start arriving after Diwali.

Diwali decorations and parties in Goa

Many Goans play psychedelic trance music in big stereos. Dance parties are organized at night clubs, especially if Diwali falls over the weekend. There are tourists from Mumbai, Bangalore, and other Indian cities, and a few foreigners too. Hotels and resorts hang sky lamps from the trees.

Rangoli images

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Rangoli images can be seen in most homes during the festival. Rangoli is a beautiful hand-painted design you will find in the courtyard or the living room, close to the entrance. It is made with flower petals, colored sand, dry flour, and colored rice. The rangoli images are colorful and have complicated designs. But a rangoli design is not just for decoration. There is a deeper significance. It is to stop evil from getting into the home.

Hindus believe that there is both negative and positive energy in the cosmos and within us. The energy fields affect us all. We have positive energy when we think positively. Rangoli designs can trap negative energy, so they cannot enter us and our homes.

Easy colorful rangoli design tutorial, @Poonam Borkar

Diwali Symbols

Every Diwali, in Goa, and elsewhere in India, you will always see people decorating their homes with lamps or diyas, rangoli designs, swastika symbols, and there are bonfires and fireworks too. These are the common symbols of the festival, but there is a deeper meaning and significance behind each of them.

  • The Swatika symbol and Shubh Labh – The Swastika is for Lord Ganesha. According to Hindu customs, every new work, including a festival, can start only after paying a tribute to the Lord. You will find this symbol at the entrance of homes, business offices, and even banks. In one avatar, the Lord married Riddhi and Siddhi. The two lines at the side of the Swastika are for the two consorts of Ganesha. Shubh stands for “good”, while Labh means “profit”. They are the two sons of Ganesha.
  • Diya or Lamps – Almost every home is decorated with diyas, which are earthen lamps. They are put up in every corner, even just outside the entrance. The light is a symbol of goodness to fight off evil. The diya’s oil represents dirt (hatred, jealousy, greed, lust etc.), which we all have, and which makes us impure. We fight off evil by burning off the oil and emitting the light. This helps us become enlightened and pure.
  • The diya also signifies knowledge. The lamps can remove the darkness and bring in new thoughts, new ideas, and greater knowledge.
  • Fireworks and Bonfires – According to Hindu mythology, the evil king Narkasur could only be killed by his mother Bhumi Devi, but she was already dead. So in a way Narkasur was immortal. God Indra requested Krishna to do something about this. Krishna in turn asked Satyabhama, his wife, who was a reincarnation of Bhumi Devi to help him. In the fight that followed, Krishna was heavily injured by Narkasur. Satyabhama was furious after seeing this, and killed Narkasur with a weapon.
  • But before his death, Narkasur asked for a boon from his mother. Krishna then said that everyone will celebrate his death by bursting firecrackers, bonfires, distributing sweets, and by lighting their homes.
  • Goddess Lakshmi – One of the most important Hindu Gods, Lakshmi symbolizes happiness, wealth, and prosperity. She is also the symbol of progress. However, it is not just for material gains. Goddess Lakshmi also stands for spiritual growth of the body and the mind.

Diya lamps for Diwali

Diya for Diwali

Top 8 Diwali Traditions

Here are some of the most common Diwali traditions with their meanings.

  1. Cleaning The Home – This is the time for making repairs, cleaning, and throwing away unwanted things. The homes are then decorated with lanterns, ribbons, strings, and lights.
  2. Sweets – Sweets are made at home and given away to friends, relatives, and neighbors. Those who cannot prepare at home will buy it from shops.
  3. Shopping – This is one of the biggest shopping seasons in India. Everyone will buy clothes and wear them. This is another way of getting rid of evil and moving forward, not looking back into the past. On the first day of Diwali, many will buy silver and gold coins, or utensils for the kitchen.
  4. Lights – Diyas and lamps are lit up to burn off evil so that we can become pure internally. It is also done to prevent evil from entering the home.
  5. Firecrackers – Celebration of victory of good over evil.
  6. Parties – Friends and family come together to celebrate.
  7. Gifts – Gifts are given to both younger, older family members, and friends. Traditionally, new clothes or sweets were given away. But now people are even gifting food baskets, dry fruits, electronic appliances, and gift vouchers.
  8. Rangoli – Hand painted complicated rangoli designs can be seen at the entrance of homes to capture evil and prevent it from entering.

The 5 Days of Diwali

How Hindus are celebrating Diwali

How Hindu celebrate Diwali

Day 1 – Dhanvantari day, dedicated to the main avatar of Vishnu, an important Hindu God. This is a day of prayers for good health and fortune. Food is offered to Lord Vishnu. Incidentally, Lord Rama is believed to be an incarnation of Vishnu.

Day 2 – Naraka Chaturdashi to celebrate the victory of Lord Krishna over the Naraka demon. Lamps are lit up in Krishna temples across the state. In Goa, this is the most important day of Diwali. In fact, many will celebrate Diwali only on this one day, and go about their everyday life on the other days. Rangoli paintings.

Day 3 – Lakshmi Puja to offer prayers to the Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi, and also Lord Ganesha. Homes are decorated with lights.

Day 4 – Govardhana Puja. Celebrated mostly by the North Indians living in Goa, marking how Krishna protected people from the anger of God Indra. Food decorated in pyramid form is offered to everyone.

Day 5 – The last day of Diwali, a day when people visit their relatives and friends with sweets and other gifts. Prayers are offered for good wealth and fortune. A day of doing good and peace.

Diwali in Goa

Across India, Diwali is mostly about the return to home of Lord Rama with his wife and brother. However, in Goa, it is more about the fall of the demon king Narkasur.

Narkasur was a king in Goa. He had supernatural powers, but was arrogant and cruel. According to legend, Narkasur would steal away all the assets, relics, wealth, and even the good looking girls. So the people asked Lord Krishna to help them. Lord Krishna defeated Narkasur, killed him, and freed the people. So the festival is more popularly referred to as Narak Chaturdasi in Goa.

Top 5 Things To Do In Goa During Diwali

  1. Enjoy the firecrackers.
  2. Watch the street parades with the large figure of Narkasur. See how the figure is set on fire and how it slowly goes up in flames.
  3. Diwali is the festival of lights. See the beautiful decorations. Almost every street and every home is decorated with lights.
  4. Visit a Lakshmi temple and offer prayers, or see the devotees.
  5. Visit an Indian home. See the beautiful Rangoli images, and learn about Indian customs and food.

Narkasur in Goa

Narkasur in Goa, @lokaso

Villas in Goa for Diwali

Choose from a huge range of apartments and Luxury Goa Villas for stay during Diwali. They all offer free Wi-Fi, swimming pool, parking lot and comfortable spacious rooms with mini-kitchen, bathroom with all necessary supplies, mini bar, terrace and other accommodation requirements.

Here are some amazing properties:

Luxury villa with private pool. Located right on the beach. 7 en-suite air conditioned bedrooms.

From 35 000 Rs. per night

The beach villa Zuri White only 50 meters from the beach. Private large fenced area. There are 4 full bedrooms. For 3-8 people.

From 18 000 Rs. per night

This villa has 3 bedrooms and a Swimming pool. Located near the coastline — only 7 mins drive.

From 12 000 Rs. per night

* Price depends on arrival dates and duration of stay.




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