Deepavali or Diwali or the festival of lights is the brightest and most sought after of all Hindu festivals. It spreads over four days when it practically illuminates the entire country with scores of lights and fireworks. It spreads joy and sense of camaraderie that engulfs friends and foes alike with a lot of love and goodness.
Diwali is celebrated twenty days after Dassera, on amavasya (new moon), the fifteenth day of the dark fortnight of the month of Ashwin. The festival corresponds with the English months of October/November.
The origin of Diwali
The origins of Diwali can be traced back to ancient India, when it was probably an important harvest festival. But one cannot ignore the various legends that suggest how this festival came to be celebrated.
According to one legend the festival is to celebrate the marriage of Goddess Laksmi to Lord Vishnu. However, in Bengal the festival is dedicated to the worship of Mother Kali, the dark goddess of strength. Lord Ganesha, the God who symbolises auspiciousness and wisdom, is also worshiped in most Hindu homes during Diwali. Jains believe that Lord Mahavira attained the eternal bliss or nirvana on Diwali day. Yet another legend has it that Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya along with Sita and Lakshman from his fourteen year long exile after defeating the demon-king Ravana who had kidnapped Sita. The people of Ayodhya illuminated the entire kingdom with diyas in joyous celebration of the return of their king.
Significance of lights and firecrackers
All the simple rituals of Diwali have a significance and a story to tell. The illumination of homes with lights and the skies with firecrackers is an expression of obeisance to the heavens for the attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace and prosperity. According to one belief, the sound of firecrackers makes the Gods in heaven aware of the joy of the people living on earth. The other reason has more scientific significance: the fumes produced by the crackers kill a lot of insects and mosquitoes, found in plenty after the rains.
It’s time to give and forgive
Diwali is a time for everyone to forget and forgive the wrongs done to them by others. The air is filled with a sense of freedom, festivity and friendliness. Diwali brings about unity and instils charity in the hearts of people. Everyone buys new clothes for the family.