The Differences in What Diwali Means to Jains, Sikhs, and Hindus.

Diwali is one of the largest holidays that is celebrated in India; it is the story of light overcoming the darkness. The meanings though are completely different to three different groups of people: the Jains, the Hindus, and the Sikhs. Let’s take a look at this special holiday and see what it means to each group.

The Jain Celebration of the Holiday

The Jains celebrate Diwali as a remembrance of Lord Mahavir and his teachings. The Lord was a teacher of compassion and tolerance, and was always explaining the importance of all beings, and their equality. When he passed according to the beliefs of the Jains he had met Moksha, which was the freedom from the circle of reincarnation. When this occurred, it was the tradition of the people that the earth and the heavens were then illuminated with lights to remember the occasion.

When the anniversary of his enlightenment comes around, each year the Jains light lamps all over their region to keep his ideas alive and to share the remembrance with others. Another part of the celebration is fasting, singing, and mantras. This is also the day of the New Year for the Jains as they remember how to live life according to the teachings of the Lord.

The Hindu Celebration of the Holiday

As the beginning of the New Year according to the Lunar Calendar, it is a time of the festival of the “Row of Lights.” According to people of the Hindu Faith, this is the time in which there is a conquering of evil by good, and darkness by the light. The people celebrate this holiday as the beginning of the year by getting rid of the old and ushering in the new, this is seen by people cleaning their houses as well as people wearing new colorful clothing. People spend lots of time praying to the goddess of wealth, prosperity and light Lakshmi for the beginnings of an excellent year. If there was anything that was concluding in the last year but has not come to fruition such as a business deal or another item, people also pray to Ganesha, who is the Remover of Obstacles and the Lord of Beginnings.

How the Sikhs Celebrate the Holiday

Sikhs do not technically celebrate Diwali, rather, they observe Bandi Chhor Divas, which coincides with Diwali. For the Sikh population the holiday is very important as it is the celebration of the release of the sixth Guru as well as 52 other Hindu princes in 1619. There was a disagreement between the Emperor and Guru Hargobind. When the Guru’s release was arranged after many weeks of discussions, the Emperor agreed to release the princes, but it was only the number who was able to hold onto the coat of the guru as he was released. This stipulation was done as a means to control the number of people who were being released from the prison. The Guru, realizing the artifice of the Emperor decided that the way to outwit him was to create a cloak that had 52 strings, this way each prince would be able to hold a piece of the cloak. This was the way in which he was able to outwit the Emperor and bring all of the princes to safety.

When the Guru reached the holy city of Amritsar, the people lit the city up in lights and candles, similar to Diwali.

The name of the holiday is literally translated in Sanskrit as the Row of Lights. This is because of all of the houses as well as the public places that put up lights in remembrance of the holiday. The lights are called Diyas, which are made of clay. They are places in the windows, the doors, and other locations throughout the city.

This is a huge holiday for the country of India, and its similar and different connections in the meaning of the holiday as well as in the celebration are amazing. India is a land of similarity and difference that further shows the historic diversity that comes together as beauty in the country of India.

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