Diwali is not what you thought it was—It is really Deep Daan Utsav, a Buddhist pageant


Deep Daan Utsav is widely known by Neo-Buddhists on the day of Kartik Amavasya as per the Hindi calendar. Whereas it’s celebrated throughout India as ‘Diwali’ or ‘the pageant of lights’, its historical past is a contested one, torn between delusion and appropriation. The practices surrounding the pageant of lights may appear pan-Indian, however there are a number of historic vantage factors from which one can take a look at Diwali.

Neo-Buddhists declare at the present time marked the completion of 84,000 stupas by King Ashoka. In response to Hindu delusion, the day is widely known to mark the victory of Lord Rama and his return to Ayodhya. The pageant can also be related with the agrarian society marking the completion of the Kharif season. The rise of globalisation and the marketisation of festivals have given new meanings to the festivals altogether.

It is very important observe, although, that each Deep Dan Utsav and Diwali replicate the historic variations which are marked by a collection of contestation and appropriation.


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What’s Deep Daan Utsav?

Deep Daan Utsav is the acknowledgement by Neo-Dalit Buddhists of King Ashoka’s effort to revive Buddhism in India. Buddhist historical past says that after the Mahaparinirvana of Buddha, his relics had been distributed amongst eight kingdoms — Ajatashatru of Magadha, Licchavis of Vaishali, Sakyas of Kapilvastu, Bulis of Allakappa, Koliyas of Ramgram, Brahmins of Vedas, Mallahas of Pawa, and Kushinagar.

King Ashoka introduced again these relics to Patliputra. He additional ordered the development of viharas, chaityas, and hospitals in 64,000 totally different cities to make sure the unfold of Buddhism. Dr Balmiki Prasad, in his work Deepvansh, discusses Ashoka’s efforts, significantly in Patliputra and Vaishali the place he established a Buddha mahavihar named Ashokaram.

Rahul Sankrityayan discusses the development of 84,000 websites of Buddhist chaityas, viharas, and stupas. It’s stated that after the development was accomplished, King Ashoka celebrated at the present time, Karthik Amavasya, as Deep Daan Utsav. It was marked by the lighting of deep or lamps, and giving dana or grain to Buddha Bhikkhus.

Dr Vijay Kumar Trisharan has argued that Deep Daan Utsav, which is now fashionable as Diwali, was really a pageant of the Mulnivasi, who had been Buddhists. He says Brahminical forces appropriated the pageant, thereby diminishing the Buddhist ideology. For example, 64,000 Buddhist preachings had been modified to 64,000 yonis, which was one of many some ways wherein Deep Daan Utsav was Brahmanised, which helped invent Diwali by myths that sought to counter the Buddhist legacy of King Ashoka. In current occasions, the revival of Buddhism by the Bahujan neighborhood by its cultural practices is a big facet of contesting and resisting Hindu myths with historic details.

The Bahujan neighborhood, which has accepted Buddhism, celebrates at the present time as Deep Daan Utsav. They lay declare to the authenticity of the pageant as Buddhists by Buddha’s final phrases— “Atta Deepo Bhava“, which implies “Be thy personal mild.” The lighting of deep is, due to this fact, ingrained throughout the Buddhist philosophical custom.


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The on a regular basis practices of contesting histories

The revival of celebration of Deep Daan Utsav is a consequence of the rise of anti-caste consciousness amongst Bahujan communities. The transforming of myths and re-reading of historical past are necessary cultural practices to shed the coyness and indignity that had traditionally shrouded Bahujans. The works of Jyotirao Phule, corresponding to Gulamgiri, have mirrored upon the legendary practices from Hindu scriptural texts to reclaim a dignified identification.

Amongst Buddhist Bahujan communities, the celebration of Deep Daan Utsav is marked by equal fervour as Diwali. The practices embody lighting up homes, listening to Buddhist verses, visiting viharas, donating to Bhikkhus, and many others. These practices are makes an attempt by the Bahujans to revive and declare historic glorification. The importance lies in tracing the historical past of Buddha and Ashoka, which is an anti-caste follow of fascinated by a casteless society that Buddhist philosophy mentioned.

Inside mental traditions, the works of Sankrityayan, Bhadant Kaushalyayan, Vincent Smith, Gail Omvedt et al have been important in discussing the revivalism of Buddhism by these cultural practices. A lot of their works are a part of the favored narratives as properly, that are circulated by booklets, social media, and on a regular basis conversations.


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Modern follow

The revival of Buddhism, significantly after Dr B.R. Ambedkar’s conversion in 1956, has opened up the area for critically rethinking the contested historical past. Dr Ambedkar, in his work The Triumph of Brahmanism (Vol 3, pg 275), says, “It has been generally supposed that the tradition of India has been one and the identical all all through historical past; that Brahmanism, Buddhism, Jainism are merely totally different phases and that there has by no means been any basic antagonism between them…Within the first place, it have to be acknowledged that there has by no means been corresponding to a typical Indian tradition, that traditionally there have been three Indias, Brahmanic India, Buddhist India and Hindu India, every with its personal tradition.”

The up to date follow of projecting festivals as homogenised and distanced from contestation is all about eulogising the Hindutva agenda that seeks to ignore historic wrongs. Even throughout the mainstream discursive practices, the cultural resistance by re-reading of historical past by the Dalit Bahujan neighborhood is basically ignored.

It’s important to notice that cultural attributes, just like the celebration of a pageant, are necessary reflections on the historic trajectories by which cultures have unfolded. For the Dalit-Bahujan neighborhood, festivals are an necessary facet of remembrance and rethinking historical past. The celebration of Deep Daan Utsav roots itself within the Buddhist custom of Ashoka, one thing that has been shunned from mainstream historiography, which by no means acknowledged the contestation between delusion and historical past. The celebration of cultural occasions are important social parameters by which contested social historical past lays itself naked.

Kalyani is a PhD scholar on the Heart for the Examine of Social Methods, Jawaharlal Nehru College (JNU). She tweets at @FiercelyBahujan. Views are private.

(Edited by Humra Laeeq)



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