Diwali or Deepavali is commonly referred to as the ‘Festival of Lights’. This is one of the oldest festivals that Hindus across the world celebrate. Diwali the most significant and important festivals for Hindus and it is an official holiday in a number of countries including Fiji, Guyana, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
What Is Diwali
Diwali is a festival that celebrates light over darkness or good over bad or evil. During Diwali, most people will decorate their home with lights, divas or lamps in order to bring in the light. A number of temples, buildings and offices too are decorated for the festival. Diwali is usually spread over 5 days but the main festival is celebrated with the darkest night coincides with the new moon. This also marks the New Year for Hindus. Diwali usually falls during the months of October or November.
Before Diwali, people do a lot to prepare for the festival. People renovate their homes, clean it up, and decorate it with lights and divas. They also make a lot of sweets and savory items to share with their loved ones. During Diwali people also exchange gifts between friends and family members. This is also the time that people go shopping for new clothes and home accessories.
One of the most popular days of Diwali is Dhanteras which is popular in Northern and Western India. During this day people consider it auspicious to buy gold. This is the first day of Diwali. The second day is called Naraka Chaturdasi. The third day is when Deepavali is celebrated. During the main Deepavali celebration, Hindus light firecrackers to celebrate. The fourth day is called as Diwali Padva which is dedicated to the husband wife relationship. The festival ends with Bhau-beej which is dedicated to the brother and sister relationship.
Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and even some Buddhists celebrate Diwali. Each of these religions celebrates it to mark different historical stories, events or myths. However one thing in common is Diwali symbolizes victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair.
While different religions celebrate Diwali for different reasons, Hindus celebrate Diwali to celebrate the return of Lord Rama, his beloved wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana returning from a 14 year exile to Ayodhya. They return after defeating Ravana. To honor their return, their path is illuminated. This ritual continues till date where people line up divas that mark the triumph of good over evil. Some even celebrate Diwali to mark the return of the Pandavas after 12 Vanvas years and one Agyatavas in the Mahabharata. Deepavali is also linked with the celebration of Goddess Lakshmi who was venerated as the Goddess of prosperity and wealth among Hindus.
No matter the reason for celebrating Diwali, this is surely one of the most anticipated and loved festivals across India and the world. The festival of lights truly brings a smile to everyone’s face and everything feels right around this time of the year.