Diwali in Gujarat
Diwali is a major Indian festival, which comes in autumn. In Gujarat, Diwali celebrations take on a number of distinct characteristics. It occurs in the second (dark) lunar fortnight (Krishna Paksha) of the month of Ashvin (Gujarati "Aaso") and the first (bright) fortnight (Shukla Paksha) of Kartika (Guj. "Kartik"). Aaso is the last month of the Gujarati calendar, and Kartik the first.
From Aaso vad Agyaras (11th day from full/no moon) to Dev Deepawali people light diyas (or decorative lights) to decorate their house. It is believed it protects them from evil spirits.
Diwali in Gujarat is also special because Gujarat observes at least a five-day official holiday from the day of Diwali till Labh Pancham, which may get extended sometimes to seven and start early from the day of Bhai-beej.
Vaak Baras (repeatedly and wrongly referred to as 'vaagh-baras'), where 'vaak' means 'vaani' or Goddess Saraswati in a broader sense, occurs on Aso vad 12, the 12th dark day of Aso [not in citation given]. This is also known as Govatsa dwadashi and Guru Dwadashi. On this day, cows and calves are worshiped. People clear their account ledgers (khata) today and not enter into new transactions using new ledgers only after Labh Panchm.
Vaak Baras is repeatedly mispronounced as Vaagh Baras. "Vaagh" also means "Tiger" in Gujarati. It is thus celebrated with references to tigers. In some Dhodia villages, some men colour themselves in stripes representing the Vaagh and others as plain white or other colours denoting cattle. The tiger chases the cattle. Finally, at the end of the sport, the village inhabitants eat food together at a common place and celebrate.
Dhanteras occurs on Aso vad 13, the 13th dark day of Aso.: Most communities worship the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, by performing puja. Material wealth in the form of gold jewelry and money (or precious metal coins/diamonds) are often used to represent wealth in these worship ceremonies. Gujaratis believe money spent on this day will bring prosperity to their family and home.
Kali means Dark (evil) and Chaudas - Fourteenth. The 14th day of Ashwin, Kali Chaudas is devoted to the worship of Maha-Kali or Shakti and is believed that on this day Kali killed the wicked Raktavija. Also referred to as Narak-Chaturdashi, Kali Chaudas is the day to abolish laziness and evil.
Kali Chaudas is also attached to the legend of Lord Hanuman. Hanumanji as a baby was very hungry. Whilst lying down he saw the sun in the sky and thought it was a fruit and went to pick it. He flew into the sky and put the whole sun in his mouth causing darkness throughout the universe. Lord Indra requested Hanuman to return the sun. When Hanumanji refused, Lord Indra unleashed his vajra and knocked Hanumanji down to earth releasing the Sun.
Lakshmi Puja, the central day of Diwali, occurs on new moon day (Amas), Aso vad 15, the last dark day of Aaso. (15th day from full moon day when moon disappears). Celebrated in all parts of India, Diwali is the last day of the Hindu year and people go to temples and thank the Gods. People wish their neighbours & relatives. People burst firecrackers. Houses are decorated with diyas and rangoli.
- It is referred as the Gujarati new year according to the Indian calendar based on lunar cycles, and 'Kartik' is the first month in this new year while 'Ekam' refers to the first day. Most other Hindus celebrate the New Year in the spring – Baisakhi. Gujarati community all over the world celebrates the New Year after Diwali to mark the beginning of a new fiscal year.
- People greet each other on this day by uttering Saal Mubaarak. This is an Urdu saying but is said commonly by Gujarati people (Hindi/Gujarati/ Urdu), 'Nutanvarsh abhinandan' is the equivalent Gujarati phrase with Sanskrit origin to wish Bestu Varas. The day starts with heavy fireworks to welcome New Year. Local young boys sell raw salt (collected from a salt evaporation pond), calling it "sabras" ("sab" means All and "ras" means tastes)—which means all taste, to make the natives' new year prosperous. The seller shouts "Sabras lyo Sabras, aa Gandhiji nu sabras" means "Buy Salt("Sabras"), it's Gandhiji's Salt("Sabras")". Homes are decorated with the aaso palav/Ashoka(Saraca asoca) tree leaves & Glgota/Genda/Marigolds. Home-made snacks are offered to guests & neighbors.
Bali puja is also done on this day. It is said that Lord Vaman asked King Bali for 3 strides of land (ref. Devpodhi Ekadashi for details). King Bali pleased the Lord by offering everything. Vamanji gave Bali a boon that this auspicious day will be called as 'Balipratipadaa' (Skand Puran 24/10).
Bhai Bij occurs on the 2nd bright day of Kartik (Kartak sud Bij). On this day the sister worships her brother, and the brother shows his love for his sister. The brother stands for Krishna who did the noble deed of killing the demon Narakasura. Sister wishes him a long & healthy life and offers him a Tilak & Aarti with warmth. The sister asks the Lord for the well-being of her brother, who is her protector. In return, the brother swears to always protect his sister, and be there for her in her good and bad times. He offers her a gift to show his affection to her.
Labh Pacham occurs on the 5th bright day of Kartik (kartak sud pacham), Shop owners and most businessmen start their business for the year. They start new account ledgers(Khatu) by writing "Shubh" means Auspicious, on left & "Labh" means Profit, on right & Saathiya on center, on the first page. People also go for shopping which is said to bring luck.
The celebration of Kartik Poornima also falls on the 15th day of Kartik. On this day the belief is that, after leaving king Bali, the lord Vishnu rejoined Devas in heaven on this day. The Devas celebrated his arrival in jubilation and this day is celebrated as Dev Diwali
- Diwali in Gujarat at diwalifestival.org
- "Gujarat goes on standby mode in Diwali week as holidays extended on Gujarati New Year, Bhai Beej". Economic Times. 12 November 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
- Vagh baras at swaminarayan.org
- Dhanteras at diwalifestival.org
- Laxmi Pujan at diwalifestivals.org
- Bestu Varsh at diwalifestival.org
- Bhaubeej at diwalifestival.org
- Labh Pacham at diwalifestival.org
- Dev Diwali - Swaminarayan Sampradaya
- "Pilgrims flock Palitana for Kartik Poornima yatra". The Times of India. 2009-11-02. Retrieved 2009-11-03.