Diwali and the New Year Celebrations 2013

Diwali, the Festival of Lights has been and still is one of the most important occasions celebrated in India for many millennia. This year it also coincides with last day of Vikram Samvat year 208- the eve of the Indian New Year.

Most importantly, it is referred to as the Festival of Lights, and is traditionally marked by placing decorated oil lamps (each called a (‘deep’) in rows (‘avali’) – hence the Sanskrit name, ‘Deepavali’. This practice can be traced to the return of Bhagwan Rama to Ayodhya after vanquishing the evil King Ravana. The people of Ayodhya celebrated his return by lighting the streets with oil lamps and decorating their front yards with colorful patterned designs called a Rangoli. Diwali thus celebrates the triumph of good over evil and is a reminder to dispel inner darkness with the light of God’s presence.

There are many sentiments attached to the festivities.

  • It is a time for family. Bhai beej – when siblings honor one another and show mutual respect.
  • It is the festival of lights – On this day, people light diva symbolically, in forms of candle lights with prayers for inner enlightenment.
  • It is a feast – Sweets are made and distributed to friends and family. Indian food is enjoyed.
  • It is a time for renewal – Account books are honored in Chopda pujan.
  • It is a time for community – families of all backgrounds gather and celebrate the New Year at the Mandir.
  • People forgive and forget misdeeds of the past year and resolve to spend the coming year in peace, harmony, purity and to earn wealth ethically, by observing righteousness.

What is Annakut?

The day following Diwali is the beginning of the Hindu New Year. It is a time of renewal, reflection and resolution.

It is also an occasion where people offer their thanks to the almighty, and is traditionally celebrated with the Annakut – literally, ‘a mountain of food’. It is a grand offering of hundreds of vegetarian delicacies prepared in devotion to thank God for his providence over the past year seeking blessings for the year ahead. It is an offering of the first meal of the New Year.

Monday, November 4, 2013 this year marks the first day of the Hindu New Year Vikram Samvat 2070

 Annakut is thus amongst one of the most auspicious days of the Hindu year and celebrated fervently with gifts, feasting and merriment.