Singapore, this year, again went out of its way to celebrate Deepavali, as is more popularly known here. Last year, I blogged extensively on how much efforts the Lion City puts in ensuring Diwali is lifted to global festival status, hence won’t repeat. During my emcee opportunities, I take pride in showcasing global culture and festivals to my audiences – one of my ways of keeping them engaged and smiling. So here’s my dig out (thanks to Google baba) of Diwali / Deepavali trivia.
- Why is Diwali / Deepavali celebrated?
- The oldest reason known is to celebrate the end of autumn and start of winter. In India, tiny green moths would flock in autumn to farmers dwelling areas. Then comes the ‘festival of lights’, and miraculously, the moths would disappear only to come the next year autumn.
- In northern India, they celebrate the story of King Rama’s return to Ayodhya after he defeated Ravana by lighting rows of clay lamps.
- Southern India (bar Kerala) celebrates it as the day that Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura.
- In western India, the festival marks the day that Lord Vishnu, the Preserver (one of the main gods of the Hindu trinity) sent the demon King Bali to rule the netherworld.
- In Bengalis, Kali Puja is celebrated on the day of Diwali.
- In Jainism, it marks the nirvana or spiritual awakening of Lord Mahavira on October 15, 527 B.C.
- In Sikhism, it marks the day that Guru Hargobind Ji, the Sixth Sikh Guru was freed from imprisonment.
2. What is the most popular indoor sport played during Diwali/Deepavali?
- Teen Patti / Gambling with Cards!
3.Which countries celebrate Diwali/Deepavali by announcing a public holiday?
- Diwali/Deepavali is an international festival and the following countries celebrate it by having a public holiday – Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Surinam, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji. The real surprise here is Malaysia – included recently.
4.How long is Diwali/Deepavali celebrated?
- Five days
The entire Serangoon Road, Singapore, has been lighted up in 2017 with the elephant theme.
5.What’s the schedule for each of the days?
Day 1: People consider it auspicious to spring clean the home and shop for gold or kitchen utensils.
Day 2: People decorate their homes with clay lamps and create design patterns called rangoli on the floor using coloured powders or sand.
Day 3: Prayer to Goddess Lakshmi followed by mouth-watering feasts and firework festivities.
Day 4: The fourth day is the first day of the new year when friends and relatives visit with gifts and best wishes for the season.
Day 5: Also known as Bhaiyya Dooj, brothers visit their married sisters who welcome them with love and a lavish meal.
6. In History, when is the earliest mention of Diwali?
It is mentioned in the Vatsyayana’s epic ‘Kama Sutra’ – written somewhere around 3rd century BC and 2nd century AD. Now you know when you recall Kama Sutra images, why there are ‘diyas’ (clay lamps) lighted all around!
7. Why is only one lamp lit on the first day of Diwali/Deepavali?
It’s to welcome the god of death, Yama. This is the only festival that pays homage to the much-feared god.
8. Which nation feeds dogs and crows during Diwali?
In Nepal – on the second day, dogs are given food for their ‘honesty’. This is called Kukur Tihar. The following day, people give offerings to crows as they are considered divine messengers.
9. Which is the most unlikely food offered to gods during Deepavali?You would have never guessed this but, in south India, Hanumanji is offered vadas to offer protection to devotees from evil spirits. This is done on Kali Chaudas, popularly known as Choti Diwali.
10. How would kids in India prepare for Diwali?
Kids in India would build a mud house called as ‘Diwali Ghar’, decorate it colourfully and then light it up on Diwali days. This was rampant in the 1970s to 2000s but slowly getting out of fashion!
Happy Diwali / Deepavali to you and family!