Jain Festival Diwali, Jain New Year and Vikrma Samvat
Diwali is a very important day for the Jains. On this day, Kartika Krishna 14, (dawn of the amavasya) during the swati nakshatra, Lord Mahavira attained Nirvana achieved to a state of absolute bliss. The Lord discarded the body and the bondage of all Karmas on that night, at Pavapuri and attained Mukti or deliverance.
Diwali is the festival of lights. It is mentioned in Kalpasutra that the King Chetaka of Vaishali with other friend kings, had a great lightning of lights, they thought: "since the light of intelligence (Vardhamana Mahavira) is gone, let us make an illumination of the material matter". There is another view. In the early morning after the day of Diwali, Ganadhar Gautam Swami, the first disciple of Lord Mahavir attained absolute enlightenment. This could be another probable cause for celebrating the Diwali as the festivals of lights.
Possibly the word "Diwali/Dipavali" first written by Acharya Jinasena in his in "Harivamsha-Purana" on Kartika Krishna 14, (dawn of the amavasya) during the swati nakshatra. It was composed in Shaka Samvat 705. Thus people in Bharata (India) every year celebrate famous "Dipalikaya", to respectfully worship the Jinendra on the occasion of his Nirvana. Diwali is not mentioned in Valmiki's Ramayana, Mahabharata, brahmanical Puranas or in Tulsidas's Ram-charit-manas. So, it is most probably that Diwali is predominantly a Jain custom, which was Indianised later on and is being celebrated by almost every Indian.
The new Jain year, Vira-Nirvana-Samvat 2529 begins right after this Diwali. This Year Diwali is on 5th November 2002.
The Vikrama Samvat in Gujarat starts from Diwali. Thus the new (Kartikadi)
Vikrma Samvat 2059 will start in Gujarat. Originally, the Vikrma Samvat
Synchronized with the Jain year.
Celebrations and Customs:
This festival is observed in honour of Jain deities and the final liberation of Lord Mahavira, the 24th Teerthankar, from the cycle of life. He died on this day at the age of 72, at Pawapuri in Bihar.
The fourteenth day of the bleak fortnight of Kartik, the full-moon day and the first day of the fortnight of the waxing moon in Kartik - these three days are celebrated with Paushadh, fasting, special repetition of holy hymns, and meditation. Jains observe fast on the on these three days and listen to the Uttaradhyayan Sutra which contains the final message of Lord Mahavir. The whole of the night of Diwali should be spent in the recitation from the holy hymns and in meditation on Shraman Bhagwan Mahavir. In the early morning of the first day of the New Year, Ganadhar Gautam Swami, the first disciple of Lord Mahavir attained absolute enlightenment. The Jains begin the New Year with a glorification of Lord Gautam Swami; and listen with devotion to the nine Stotras holy hymns and with listening to the auspicious Rasa (epical poem) of Gautam Swami from their Guru Maharaj.
On this day, Mahavira is worshipped at midnight and early next morning. Sacred scriptures are recited and houses are grandly illuminated. The festival is celebrated with much zest in Girnar, in Gujarat. Devotees from all parts of the country assemble at Pawapuri and sweets are distributed. The farmers do not raise livestock and try to own bulls for farming.
Diwali for Sikhs:
Diwali is one of the most important festivals for Sikhs. It is a holy day for them. In 1577, Foundation Stone of Golden Temple was laid down on the day of Diwali. In fact third Sikh teacher Guru Amar Das asked all his disciples to assemble to receive the blessings of Guru. Diwali was first observed during the life of sixth Guru Hargovind Sahib. Moghul Emperor Jahangir was ruler at that time. He put Sixth Sikh Guru and 52 Hindu Kings behind the bars. At the request of People from within India and from out side India, Jahangir released Guru Hargovind Sahib on the day of Diwali. Jahangir released all other 52 kings at the insistence of Guru Hargovind on the same day. Sikhs were very happy as their leader was released. Guru Horgovind Sahib ji went to the Golden Temple to offer his prayer on the day after his release. Mother of Guru was very happy and she distributed sweets to everyone. Worshippers floated coloured light candles in the lake of Golden temple. The day was celebrated with a grand fire works at the night. As 52 kings were also released on the same day the Diwali was celebrated through out undivided India with colour, vigour and fire works. Possibly, from then Diwali was celebrated with high spirit through out India.
Sacrifice of Bhai Mani Singh on the Occasion of Diwali:
Bhai Mani Singh was a great scholar and he transcripted the final version of Guru Granth Sahib upon dictation from Guru Govind Singh ji in 1704. He took charge of Harmandir Sahib's management on 1708. Diwali was not celebrated in Golden Temple at that time. In 1737, he received permission from Mogul emperor of Punjab, Zakaria Khan for celebrating Diwali at Golden Temple for a massive tax of Rs. 5,000 (some authors say it was Rs10,000). Invitations were sent to the Sikhs all over India to join Bandi Chhorh Diwas celebrations at Harmandir Sahib. Bhai Singh thought he would collect the tax-money from the Sikhs as subscriptions who would assemble for the purpose of Diwali Celebrations. But Bhai Mani Singh Ji later discovered the secret plan of Zakariya Khan to kill the Sikhs during the gathering. Bhai Mani Singh Ji immediately sent message to all the Sikhs not to turn up for celebrations. Bhai Man Singh could not manage to arrange the money to be paid for tax. Zakariya Khan was not happy about the situation and he ordered Bhai Mani Singh's assassination at Lahore by ruthlessly cutting him limb-by-limb to death. Ever since, the great sacrifice & devotion of martyr Bhai Mani Singh Ji is remembered on the Bandi Chhorh Diwas (Diwali) celebration.
It is the festival of lights. Lighting a deeva or candle in true sense is acquiring Divine knowledge & virtues (being kind, humble, meek, tolerant, selfless, sweet spoken). Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Page 358, says God's Name (divine devotion) is my lamp (to be lighted in the mind); I have put the oil of suffering (ego, jealousy, anger, lust, greed) into it. Its flame has dried up this oil and I would be attained union with Waheguru.