Deepavali 2023

Deepavali, the festival of lights is the largest festival in India and worldwide. Hindus primarily celebrate Deepavali but other religions like Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs also celebrate it. Other religions have different names and reasons/stories to celebrate this day.

For Hindus, it is the day of Shri Ram’s return to Ayodhya along with Sita Devi and Lakshmana after killing evil Ravana to rescue Sita Devi. As a lot already know Deepavali is 5 day festival. All 5 days have different stories that happened in different eras. Deepavali occurs in the Hindu month of Kartika.

Dhanteras (Dhana Trayodashi – Day 1 starts with Praying to Bhagwan Dhanvantari, the god of medicine/Ayurveda who emerged during Samudra Manthan. This is the day of cleaning the house thoroughly and whitewashing (painting) to make it new and germ free. Hoses are decorated with flowers, rangoli made of rice flour and diyas. Today is the day of making new purchases like gold, silver, new utensils, vehicles, appliances etc. This is the day some communities make a special medicinal paste which helps balance tridoshas.

Naraka Chaturdashi/Choti Deepavali/Kali Chaudas – Day 2 is the day when Shri Krishna & his beautiful wife Satybhama killed Naraka, an evil rakshasa. This day starts very early with a special head and body massage with Sesame oil. In some communities, men will be applied tilak and given aarti by the women of the house in significance to going to war as Shri Krishna did in Treta Yuga.  Special food is made to offer to the god. At night diya are lit and placed in rows in front of the house. This is also the time to show the way back to their realm to the spirits of our ancestors who came down during Mahalaya Paksha/Pitru Paksha a fortnight ago in the month of Shravan.  So we light diyas and burst firecrackers into the sky to show the way back.

Deepavali – Day 3 is the day when Shri Rama returned to Ayodhya and also the day of Lakshmi Puja. This is the day when Mahalakshmi emerged during Samudra Manthan. The whole house is decorated with followers, rangolis and diyas, special foods are prepared, extended families are gathered together wearing new colourful clothes and Sweets are shared and distributed among friends and neighbours.  Newly wedded couples become the centre of attraction. For some states that have a majority of merchants like Gujrat, Rajasthan it is the new year as they take a long holiday around this time and resume trading after the Deepavali.

Annakut, Govardhan Puja or Bali Padyami – Day 4 dedicated to Shri Krishna and the hill he lifted when he was young to save his village from severe storms and rains. This day is also considered the day when King Bali was defeated by Bhgwan Vamana, an avatar of Shri Maha Vishnu. Annakut (Mountain of food) is offered to Shri Krishna on this day. 

Bhai Dhuj, Bau Beej or Vishwakarma Puja – Day 5 is dedicated to brothers and sisters although it is not celebrated widely by all Hindus. Today women gather together and pray for the good health of their brothers, cook a special meal for them and feed them with their hands. This is also the day for artisan Hindu families to pray Vishwakarma, the presiding deity for architecture, building, manufacturing, textile work and crafts.

Many villages organise melas (village fairs) at Deepavali time. Not everyone celebrates all 5 days. Different regions celebrate different days and celebrate differently with local traditions and customs. 

Deepavali 2023 has been celebrated vigorously by the Hindu community in Australia. A number of events were organised by different community organisations Australia wide. Many events are organised by local, state and federal governments, Multicultural departments, Shopping Centres etc with cultural performances, diya making, rangolis, henna etc.

This year has seen many more events than last year and many more politicians and Australian communities joining Deepaali events Australia wide. Many politicians wished their local communities and shared the joy of festivities. 

The Hindu Council of Australia had several events throughout Australia. Events at state parliaments organised in NSW, Victoria, and NT by respective chapters and the federal parliament by ACT chapter, Bradfield Park, Box Hill and Ed Square, Sydney,  Civic Centre Park, Perth by WA chapter, Adelaide Showground, Adelaide by SA Chapter.

Unfortunately, because of the bad weather, HCA’s biggest Deepavali event at Riverstone has been called off and celebrated at Box Hill shopping centre instead. This year’s new addition to HCA’s events is the Ed Square shopping centre in Edmondson Park. 

We have seen amazing performances, shared the festivities, sweets, flowers, rangolis, diyas and henna with other Australian communities, politicians and community leaders. 

Now that this festive period is finished, we’ll wait for another year of festivities to celebrate and cherish the moments with loved ones. 

Below is the link to Deepavali 2023 Souvenir magazine of the Hindu Council of Australia

HCA Deepavali 2023 Souvenir Magazine

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