23 Oct

Deepavali or Diwali, as the festival is popularly called, literally means “a row of lights”. It is usually celebrated on the 14th day after full-moon/new-moon day in the tamil month of Aipasi (or Ashwina in Sanskrit).

There are several significant events associated with this festival and two of the popular ones are

  • Lord Rama returning to Ayodhya after killing Ravana and re-uniting with Sita. Incidentally, the 10th and the last day of Dusshera is considered as the day when Rama killed Ravana and 20 days from there on, the time it took for Rama to finish his other duties in Lanka and get back to Ayodhya, is when Deepavali is celebrated.
  • Lord Krishna vanquishing over the evil Narakasura. The story goes that Narakasura had a boon that no one but for his mother could kill him and hence, Lord Krishna, when he went to the war, took Satyabhama (re-incarnation of Narakasura’s mother) as his charioteer. Lord Krishna pretended to faint in the middle of the war and fearing that the asura might kill her husband, Satyabhama killed Narakasura on the day of Deepavali.

As with many other festivals (in Hinduism and other religions), the underlying message of Deepavali, is the ultimate triumph over evil. Unlike most other Hindu festivals that are ritual-oriented with very clear and set rules, Deepavali is a free-for-all festival and I think that is one of the main reasons for this to be the most popular Hindu festival. The air is charged with Deepavali-spirit and the general mood is one of fun and gaiety.

In South India, Deepavali is celebrated traditionally, by getting up early in the morning at around 4 AM and having an oil-bath, known as Ganga Snanam (translates to a shower in Ganga, the purifier of all sins). People wear new clothes and blast crackers, which thankfully has toned down in recent years. Different varieties of sweets and savories (known as bhakshanam) are made, exchanged with friends and families.

How do you celebrate Deepavali, traditionally or otherwise?

PS: I am planning to make some Deepavali bhakshanams this year, so stay tuned.


Posted by on October 23, 2008 in Pandigai (Festival)



16 responses to “Deepavali

  1. Mitr

    October 23, 2008 at 7:38 AM


    Lovely write up on the significance of Deepavali. Looking forward to the visua treats of the bhakshanam. Wishing you and your spouse a Very Happy Deepavali.

    Thanks Mitr. Wishing you and your K a very happy Diwali too – A-kay

  2. SPillay

    October 23, 2008 at 11:17 AM

    Hi A-Kay. Wishing you and your family a very Happy Diwali. At our home, the preparations are already on full swing 🙂 . The next few days will go by in a blure, I think.

  3. indosungod

    October 23, 2008 at 8:23 PM

    Happy Deepavali! A-Kay. Looking forward to seeing what goodies you come up with.

  4. Dinesh

    October 23, 2008 at 9:18 PM

    Nice info on Diwali! Wish you a very Happy Diwali. Hard to celebrate in US, the way people do in India as we have to go to work on Diwali day. So we just have a small party this weekend. It would have been an entirely different story in India.

    Totally agree with you. Growing up in India, it was a totally different story, with an oil bath in the wee hours of the morning followed by bursting crackers with my brother and friends from the colony. It is indeed a totally different story now. – A-kay

  5. Laksh

    October 23, 2008 at 10:23 PM

    Lovely!! Like everybody else here really looking forward to your bakshanam recipes.

  6. Happy Cook

    October 23, 2008 at 11:49 PM

    Looking forward to it

  7. Apar

    October 24, 2008 at 12:02 AM

    Waiting for your set of deepavali bakshanam 🙂

  8. Anu

    October 24, 2008 at 8:00 AM

    Like the insight into the festival and since I live next door rest assured I will be there, promptly, to try the bakshanam…

  9. Mads

    October 25, 2008 at 8:19 AM

    Happy Deepavali to you and your family. Looking forward for your recipes. Here I will light some diya’s and clean up the house and do pooja.

  10. Lakshmi

    October 26, 2008 at 10:41 PM


    Happy Diwali! Nice writeup, I did not know Lord Rama’s story.

    Made a couple of Bakshanams and had them, I guess that’s about the celebration we can do here. Missed India a lot though in the morning 😦


    I agree with you – missed India too. Btw, I haven’t updated my blog a lot in the past 3-4 months, so you don’t have much catching up to do 🙂 – A-kay

  11. Manchus

    October 27, 2008 at 5:31 AM

    Happy Deepavali A-kay and Kay 🙂
    Looking forward to the Bakshanam post. You and Laksh rock in terms of patience to write food blogs and that too with pictures.

  12. Usha

    October 28, 2008 at 12:29 AM

    First time here,you have a cool space…this is a lovely post about Diwali….Happy Diwali to you and your family 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by Usha – you have a lovely blog too. I am having difficulty leaving comments on your blog. – A-kay

  13. Sangeetha

    October 28, 2008 at 3:37 AM

    Happy Deepavali…A-kay. I tried your maida burfi – There is a picture in my blog. I have renamed it to be maida halwa 😀

  14. UL

    October 30, 2008 at 4:14 AM

    I loved that photographs of diyas…beautiful..


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