India a great country is the embodiment of heritage and culture. India celebrates a festival almost every month and has been rightly called the Country of Festivals. The great culture that amalgamates the rituals and tradition and everyday is a moment of celebration for some reason or other. It beckons the spirit of festivity and brings a sense of joy and happiness in our lives. The festivals have a significant story or history behind it. This story is the key reason to all the rituals and customs that are performed for them. This is the reason for the amount of importance given to the rituals and customs. The spirit of festivity remains the essence of each festival. It is not just in India that these festivals are celebrated but all across the world wherever Indians are present.
The festival of Deepavali or Diwali is one of the major festivals of India and is celebrated by Indians all across the world. Deepavali is popularly known as the festival of lights. The word ‘Deepavali’ comes from the words ‘Deepa’ and ‘Avali’, which means row of lights in Sanskrit. It signifies the triumph of good over evil. Deepavali, according to the Indian calendar is celebrated on the new moon night that falls begins in late Ashvin and ends in early Kartika. According to the western calendar, this falls between mid-October and mid-November.
Celebrations and ritual for the festival begins days in advance. Every household indulges in a list of activities that marks the occasion. Cleaning of the house and office forms the priority. It is believed that the house should be neat and clean for the Goddess of wealth Laxmi, to give her blessings. As such, one week before the festivity, the house is cleaned and kept tidy. Rangoli motifs are made on the entrance, to welcome Goddess Lakshmi.
Hindus celebrate Diwali for more than one reason.
The most popular association is with day that Ram, the son Dasharath, king of Ayodhya, returned from his banishment after 14 years. His return was welcomed by deep or diya that were lit in ghee.
Another association is with the death of Narakasura by Lord Krishna’s wife Satyabhama. This is celebrated one day before Deepavali as Naraka Chaturdashi.
The other is the Govardhan Puja. This is celebrated one day after Deepavali. This day holds the significance of Krishna defeating Indra.
The festival of lights, as it is popularly known, inspires people to believe in the power of good and signifies that no matter how dark the night gets, the light of a single lamp can enlighten one’s path.
From darkness into light, from ignorance to knowledge, from unhappiness into bliss, this, indeed, is the true and deep message that the festival of Diwali brings every year with its joyous celebrations.
On the first day of Diwali festivities is known as Dhanteras.
On this day most of the business communities in India begin their financial year. People indulge in lighting lamps and candles. It is considered auspicious to buy gold and silver on this day. Many people opt for buying new utensils on this day.
Naraka Chaturdasi marks the second day of festivities; it is believed that Lord Krishna slayed a demon named Narakasura on this day. People illuminate their homes with diyas thus setting the mood for the oncoming of the festival.
On the third day, Deepavali is celebrated, which involves the worship of Goddess Laksmi and Lord Ganesha. Besides this, houses are illuminated most ostentatiously with diyas, candles and various multicolor designer strings of light bulbs. The night sky comes alive with the glitter of firecrackers.
On the fourth day, ‘Govardhan-Puja’ or ‘Annakoot’ is practiced. The deities are bathed with milk and adorned with precious clothes and ornaments.
The fifth day is the last day of the festival and is called ‘ Bhai Duj ‘. On this day, sisters invite their brothers and their family to their homes and treat them with delicacies. In turn, brothers offer them with gifts and sweets.
Diwali is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated every year. Diwali is one of the main festival in India. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness. Diwali falls between mid-October and mid-November in the of month Kartika
Before Diwali night, people clean their homes and offices. On Diwali night, Hindus wear new clothes, light up diyas (lamps and candles) inside and outside their home, participate in family puja (prayers) to Goddess Lakshmi – the Goddess Lakshmi signifies wealth and prosperity.
After puja, fireworks follow, then a family feast including mithai (sweets), and an exchange of gifts between family members and close friends.