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Diwali

Diwali-Deepawali

Deepawali or Diwali, is a festival of lights symbolising the victory of righteousness and the lifting of spiritual darkness. The word 'Deepawali' literally means rows of diyas (clay lamps). This is one of the most popular festivals in the Hindu calendar. It is celebrated on the 15th day of Kartika (October/November). This festival commemorates Lord Rama's return to his kingdom Ayodhya after completing his 14-year exile.
 
The most beautiful of all Indian festivals, Diwali is a celebration of lights. Streets are illuminated with rows of clay lamps and homes are decorated with colours and candles. This festival is celebrated with new clothes, spectacular firecrackers and a variety of sweets in the company of family and friends. All this illumination and fireworks, joy and festivity, signify the victory of divine forces over those of wicked.
 
The Goddess Lakshmi (consort of Vishnu), who is the symbol of wealth and prosperity, is also worshipped on this day. In West Bengal, this festival is celebrated as Kali Puja, and Kali, Shiva's consort, is worshipped on the occasion of Diwali.
 
Historically, the origin of Diwali can be traced back to ancient India, when it was probably an important harvest festival. However, there are various legends pointing to the origin of Diwali or 'Deepawali.' Some believe it to be the celebration of the marriage of Lakshmi with Lord Vishnu. Whereas in Bengal the festival is dedicated to the worship of Mother Kali, the dark goddess of strength. Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed God, the symbol of auspiciousness and wisdom, is also worshiped in most Hindu homes on this day. In Jainism, Deepawali has an added significance to the great event of Lord Mahavira attaining the eternal bliss of nirvana.
 
Diwali also commemorates the return of Lord Rama along with Sita and Lakshman from his fourteen year long exile and vanquishing the demon-king Ravana. In joyous celebration of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya, the Capital of Rama, illuminated the kingdom with earthen diyas (oil lamps) and burst crackers.
 
In the South, Deepawali festival often commemorates the conquering of the Asura Naraka, a powerful king of Assam, who imprisoned thousands of inhabitants. It was Krishna who was finally able to subdue Naraka and free the prisoners. To commemorate this event, people in Peninsular India wake before sunrise and make imitation blood by mixing kumkum or vermillion with oil. After crushing underfoot a bitter fruit as a symbol of the demon, they apply the 'blood' triumphantly on their foreheads. They then have ritual oil baths, anointing themselves with sandalwood paste. Visits to temples for prayers are followed by large family breakfasts of fruits and a variety of sweets.
 
Another story of king Bali is attached to the Diwali festival in South India. According to the Hindu mythology, King Bali was a benevolent demon king. He was so powerful that he became a threat to the power of celestial deities and their kingdoms. And Lord Vishnu came as the dwarf mendicant Vamana, to dilute Bali's power. Vamana shrewdly asked the king for land that would cover three steps as he walked. The king happily granted this gift. Having tricked Bali, Vishnu revealed himself in the full glory of his godhood. He covered the heaven in his first step and the earth in his second. Realising that he was pitted against the mighty Vishnu, Bali surrendered and offered his own head, inviting Vishnu to step on it. Vishnu pushed him into the nether world with his foot. In return Vishnu gave him the lamp of knowledge to light up the dark underworld. He also gave him a blessing that he would return to his people once a year to light millions of lamps from this one lamp so that on the dark new moon light of Diwali, the blinding darkness of ignorance, greed, jealousy, lust, anger, ego, and laziness would be dispelled and the radiance of knowledge, wisdom and friendship would prevail. Each year on Diwali day, even today, one lamp lights another and like a flame burning steadily on a windless night, brings a message of peace and harmony to the world.
 
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 fire-crackers are an indication of the joy of the people living on earth, making the gods aware of their plentiful state. Still another possible reason has a more scientific basis: the fumes produced by the crackers kill a lot of insects and mosquitoes, found in plenty after the rains.
 
Diwali falls, the Indian festival of lights, falls on the day of 'Amavasyaa', when the moon does not rise and there is darkness all around. Light, being symbol of hope and positive energy, indicates the victory of good over evil. By spreading light in every corner of our premises, we try to destroy the reign of darkness, on the night of Diwali. People decorate their premises with diyas, electric bulbs and other decorative electric lighting fixtures, to make their surroundings filled with colorful light and to make it bright and beautiful. Go through the following lines to learn more about Diwali and its significance.
 
The celebration of the five-day long festival, Diwali, begins on Aswayuja Bahula Chaturdashi and concludes on Kartika Shudha Vijaya. The first day of this festival begins with 'Dhan Trayodashi' or 'Dhanteras'. After the Dhanvantari Trayodashi the second day of Diwali is 'Narak Chaturdashi', which is popular as 'Chhoti Diwali'. The third day of Diwali, which is also called 'Badi Diwali' is the main day of celebrations of the festival of Diwali. People perform Lakshmi Pujan (worship of divine Goddess Lakshmi) on this day and offer prayers to her to bless them with wealth and prosperity. The fourth day of Diwali is devoted to Govardhan Pooja (worship of Lord Govardhan Parvat). The fifth day of the Diwali is Bhai Dooj, the time to honor the brother-sister relationship.