It was a dark, moonless night when Ravana the demon king of Lanka, was vanquished by Lord Rama, the banished prince of Ayodhya. After defeating Ravana, the Lord, who had abandoned his claim to Ayodhya’s throne, so as to serve an exile for fourteen years, returned back to his kingdom along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana. In his honor and triumph to revel the homecoming Lord, the people of his dynasty decorated the entire kingdom and illuminated the walkways with oil lamps so as to guide him way home. In such a way, the day was celebrated as Diwali that marked the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness.
The Sanskrit word for Diwali, interprets into a ‘row of lights’, where light symbolizes hope. Undoubtedly, the biggest religious celebration, the ‘festival of lights’ is the one unifying facet across the world. The festival ushers in a season of cheerfulness – a time to revel with loved ones, spiff up in the best apparels and gorge on delectable cuisines; all flavoring up the festive season. Witness the colorful fireworks, the sparkling oil lamps on the door steps of every house, and the dazzling night skies that showcase beautiful sights of a kaleidoscope with myriad hues.
Diwali can also be associated as a time to contemplate and judge honestly, one’s thoughts, actions and words and to detach from the negativity that inhibits within us. The traditions and festivities are mainly a five day affair wherein families and friends gather together to celebrate the joy of the festival, light oil lamps and gorge on the authentic cuisines and sweet delicacies. Diwali is celebrated on a no moon night and heralds the dawn of a New Year according to the Hindu calendar.
The significance of the Five day festival is elaborated below:
The first day of the festival begins with the purchase of gold and silver. The day is considered to be auspicious for everyone, specially the merchants to buy the books of accounts.
On the next day, people wake up at the crack of dawn to celebrate the victory of Lord Krishna, Satyabhama (Lord Krishna’s second wife) and Goddess Kali over the demon Narakasura. The festivities begin before the sunrise with sounds of firecrackers filling up the air and stopping only after the sunrise.
Lakshmi Pujan/ Diwali:
The third day is celebrated as the Diwali festival and devotees seek blessing of Goddess Lakshmi(goddess of wealth and prosperity) and Lord Ganesha. People clean their houses and decorate Rangoli (patterns/designs made of colored powder or flowers imprinted on the floor). The entire night sky is lit up with firecrackers, while people visit their friends and relatives, in the best of the apparels gorging upon the delectable cuisines.
The day after Diwali is known as Padwa – the celebration of the bond between husband and wife. The wives pray for the good health and longevity of their husbands. Govardhan(a hillock in Braj, Mathura) Puja is also performed on this day. People build cowdung hillocks, decorate it with flowers and worship them. This festival commemorates the lifting up of Mount Govardhan by Lord Krishna.
Bhai Dooj/Bhau Beej:
The last and the fifth day of Diwali is celebrated to strengthen the bond between sisters and brothers. Its the time of family reunions and the day is celebrated with great enthusiasm and zeal. The sisters pray for the well-being and success of their brothers while men vow to protect their sisters in all ways.
The spectacle and harmony, good cheer and diminishing sorrows, the hopeful hearts and endless love for each other, is what is the festival of lights showcases, regardless of how tough a year has been. It is the celebration of life, togetherness and strengthening bonds.
FESTIVAL DATES 2018: 7th November
To know more about the Festivals of India, click here.