Saturday, 2 November 2013

Deepavali or Diwali தீபாவளி

Deepavali Deepavali 
2 November 2013

** The Hindu Advisory Board (HAB) has confirmed that Deepavali will fall on 2 November 2013 (Saturday) instead of 3 November 2013 (Sunday). Since Deepavali is no longer on 3 November 2013 (Sunday), 4 November 2013 (Monday) will not be a public holiday. Instead, 2 November 2013 (Saturday) will be gazetted as a public holiday.


Why Deepavali on November 2 and not 3?

I first discovered that Deepavali is mostly known as Diwali elsewhere when we were in Dubai. Now I learned that Diwali falls on November 3 but Deepavali here is on a Saturday, November 2. Not so good. Lots of Indians and Hindus would prefer a Sunday isn't it? Those who have to work Saturdays for half a day would too feel the same. Why did our Indian Heritage Board fix it on November 2?

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Hindus in Singapore celebrate Deepavali


Deepavali, the most important date of the Hindu calendar, occurs on one day during November, and in the ethnic quarter of Little India, the festivities last practically for the whole month of October.

Deepavali is the Festival of Lights, and marks the defeat of the evil Narakasura by the Lord Khrishna. All round the world, Hindus celebrate this day as the triumph of light over darkness, and of good over evil. It marks the New Year for Hindu devotees, and is a great time of rejoicing and renewal.

During this time, Little India throbs with evening roadside stalls, booming music and strings of colourful lights. Shoppers throng the streets in search of the perfect sari to wear, or to fill their baskets with Indian foods and spices. Hindu homes are lighted with oil lamps, and offerings of sweetmeats and garlands of jasmine are placed at the family altar.

The streets and temples of Little India are lit up with streamers and fairy lights lining the streets and forming arches and gateways to the night bazaars.The Sri Veeramakaliamman, Sri Vadapathira Kaliammanand and Sri Srinivasa Perumal temples are garlanded in lights as the whole of Serangoon Road glitters to welcome the New Year.

Campbell Lane, meanwhile, takes on the mood of a street carnival for 21 days. The Deepavali Festival Village features stalls offering Indian costumes, jewelry, foods, furniture and arts and craft. Every evening except on Sundays, right up to the even of Deepavali, local and foreign artistes perform South and North Indian songs and dances.

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Diwali (Sanskrit: दीपावली, Tamil: தீபாவளி, Nepali: दीपावली तिहार, Hindi: दिवाली, Gujarati: દિવાળી, Marathi: दिवाळी, Kannada: ದೀಪಾವಳಿ, Konkaniधाकली दिवाळी, Malayalam: ദീപാവലി, Oriya: ଦୀପାବଳୀ, Punjabi: ਦਿਵਾਲੀ, Telugu: దీపావళి) (also spelt Devali in certain regions), popularly known as the "festival of lights," is a five-day Hindu festival which starts on Dhanteras, celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna paksha (dark fortnight) of the Hindu calendar month Ashwin and ends on Bhaubeej, celebrated on second lunar day of Shukla paksha (bright fortnight) of the Hindu calendar month Kartik. Dhanteras usually falls eighteen days after Dussehra. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali falls between mid-October and mid-November.

Diwali is an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji.

For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year and is celebrated in families by performing traditional activities together in their homes. For Jains, Diwali marks the attainment of moksha or nirvana by Mahavira in 527 BC. Arya Samajists, celebrate this day as Death Anniversary of Swami Dayanand Saraswati. They also celebrate this day as Shardiya Nav-Shasyeshti.

The name "Diwali" or "Divali" is a contraction of "Deepavali" (Sanskrit: दीपावली Dīpāvalī), which translates into "row of lamps". Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps (dīpa in Sanskrit: दीप) filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. These lamps are kept on during the night and one's house is cleaned, both done in order to make the goddess Lakshmi feel welcome. Firecrackers are burst because it is believed that it drives away evil spirits During Diwali, all the celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends.

The festival starts with Dhanteras on which most Indian business communities begin their financial year. The second day of the festival is called the Naraka Chaturdasi. Amavasya, the third day of Diwali, marks the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. The fourth day of Diwali is known as Kartika Shudda Padyami. The fifth day is referred to as Yama Dvitiya (also called Bhai Dooj), and on this day sisters invite their brothers to their homes.

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Marked as the most significant date of the Hindu calendar, Deepavali falls during the month of October, with the festivities lasting throughout the entire month. In Singapore, Deepavali is also known as the festival of lights, commemorating the defeat of Narakasura by their Lord Krishna. Hindus honor this day as the triumph of the victorious good over evil, and marking this date as the New Year for all Hindu devotees.

The homes of the Hindus are commonly lighted up with oil lamps, and have an area set aside for the family alters where sweetmeats and flower garlands are used as offerings.

Visit Little India for a whole new cultural experience, witness the streets blasting with vibrant traditional music and decked with a whole symphony of colourful lights. During this festive season, shoppers usually head down to search for traditional costumes to wear during the festivities, or for Indian foods and spices for their celebrations back at home.

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Deepavali, the Festival of Lights, is an occasion of much rejoicing for Hindus and Sikhs. Like Thimithi, it is celebrated in the Tamil month of Aipasi. Because of its ancient origins, the festival is enveloped in a variety of legends, the most common one being that it marks the slaying of an oppressive ruler named Narakasura by Lord Krishna, symbolising the victory of good over evil and light over darkness.

It is also believed that the souls of departed relatives descend to earth during this time. Rows of tiny earthen oil lamps are lit to guide these souls on their return journey to the next world. The festival is celebrated in various ways by different groups. For certain northern Indians, it marks the beginning of a New Year, while some in the business community close accounts and ceremonially open new ones for the New Year.

Deepavali is also an especially happy time for children, because of the social visits and sweet treats. Like the other festivals, Deepavali is one of Singaporenational festivals that help promote goodwill, understanding and harmony among the people.

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Deepavali Panic


Deepavali decorations are up at Serangoon Road and for me it signals the end of the year and all the things I meant up but failed to achieve. Yes, I’m being gloomy rather than positive. I guess I could look at it as a reminder that I have more than a month before Deepavali which falls on the 2nd of November this year. After that comes Christmas and New Year where the guilty pangs really set in.

On a brighter note the season brings all the irresistible sweet treats. The best kind being the home made ones and when they are shared in a family setting.

Thinking about my nieces making a beeline for those cookies, which I know they will love more than their baby food makes me smile in anticipation.

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Little India marks 25th anniversary of Deepavali light-up

Little India marks 25th anniversary of Deepavali light-up

The lights are up for the Deepavali festival.

2013 marks the 25th anniversary of the Deepavali light-up at Singapore's "Little India".

Some 22 social welfare organisations took part in the event this year.

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