Diwali or Deepavali is an auspicious festival in India. Popularly known as the Festival of Lights, its significance is marked by condemning the evil and ushering in brightness and prosperity in the lives of people. Celebrated for a period of 5 days, its history dates back about 2500 years ago. In the Hindu calendar, the month of Karthika approximately tallying with the English months of Mid October to Mid November marks the beginning of the festival. The entire country dazzles with lights, with the people engaging in joyous celebrations.
The Origin of Diwali
Hindu mythology states the origin of Diwali to the return of Lord Rama to his kingdom Ayodhya after being 14 years in exile. The tale is a part of the famous Hindu epic Ramayana. To commemorate the return of their beloved king after defeating the mighty demon Ravana, the people of the city celebrated by lighting diyas (earthen lamps) in their homes.
Besides various parts of India have their own way of celebrations and myths associated with the festival. Some believe that Diwali started as a festival to celebrate the rich harvest in ancient India. The Hindu gods and goddesses Lord Ganesha, Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Kali are worshipped in many places with great devotion and commitment.
The Five Days of the Festival
The first day of the festival is known as Dhanteras. It is known to be an optimistic day for any business or a new beginning of any venture. In India, people buy jewellery or any other items made of gold or silver to mark the occasion as to usher in wealth and prosperity. The Hindu goddess Lakshmi is worshipped in the households for her blessings to eradicate poverty and bring in success.
The second day of the festival is known as Naraka Chaturdasi. It is significant in solemnizing the defeat of Naraka, the demon, by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama. The demon had imprisoned 16,000 princesses who were rescued by the Lord. The day is popularly known as Chhoti Diwali (chhoti meaning little).
The third day of the festival is known as Amavasya. On this day Goddess Laxmi and Goddess Kali are worshipped in all the major parts of India. Devotees assemble in large numbers in the temples to seek their blessings from the goddess. Many perform the puja (worship) at their homes, decorating with garlands, chimes, rangolis (decorative floor patterns) and offering their prayers. As per Hindu mythology, Lord Vishnu took the form of a dwarf and banished Bali, a demon king, to underground to protect the Gods in heaven and humans in earth.
The fourth day of the festival is known as Bali Pratipada or Kartika Shudda Padyami. On this day Bali was granted permission by Lord Vishnu to come to earth and spread the message of love, compassion and affection. In some places of India, the day is celebrated as Govardhan Puja, offering prayers to Lord Krishna.
The fifth day of the festival is known as Yama Dvitiya or Bhai Dooj. The day is celebrated specifically to establish a strong bond between brothers and sisters. Gifts are shared, wishing each other happiness and life.
Diwali is celebrated in India with great vigour and delight. Its customary to buy new clothes and drape themselves with precious ornaments and jewellery. People burn fire-crackers though now there are several restrictions to it due to the pollution and specifically due to the pandemic in effect. Green Diwali is now the motto with people creating hand crafted diyas, candles, paintings and other household decor items to celebrate the occasion. Gifts and sweets are exchanged with each other. Traditional dishes are prepared in majority of the households, welcoming guests, friends and relatives.
Significance of the Festival
The festival is not only about lights and fun, it is a moment to forget all past enmities and engage in a bond of friendship and harmony. It is a time to rectify the past errors and progress in a future filled with happiness and compassion. The people are encouraged to realize their inner self and spread positivity and goodwill among all.
Let the darkness banish and lights illuminate our minds
Let us join hands and bring in peace and harmony in our selves
Wish you all a very Happy Diwali!!
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