Diwali is one of the major festivals among the Hindu community of India and other countries. It is celebrated as ‘festival of lights’ since people light their homes up with earthen lamps and also with electrical lights, in the contemporary version. This year Diwali is being celebrated on November 7. It is celebrated on the darkest night of Hindu Lunisolar month of Kartika. According to Gregorian calendar, it usually falls between mid-October to mid-November. We have read stories about Diwali how Lord Ram returned after an exile of 14 years and people of Ayodhya welcomed him by lighting the entire streets with earthen lamps. It was the darkest night of the Kartik month of Hindu Lunisolar calendar.
During Diwali, people often clean up their home. The cleaning process usually starts a week before the main festival. Some people also get their house freshly painted before Diwali. On the day of Diwali, people wear new clothes and decorate their houses with earthen lamps and candles. Nowadays, there are electric lights available in the market to illuminate the homes and offices. Public places are also cleaned and decked up. Gifts are distributed among neighbours, friends and family. Some people also prepare sweets at home and distribute among friends.
Diwali: The Story Behind its Celebration; History, Legend
The word Diwali is originated from the Sanskrit word meaning row of lights. Hence, people often line earthen lamps at their home to illuminate their personal space. Also, celebrated on Amavasya (no moon night), Diwali is celebrated with earthen lamps and artificial lights illuminate up the place.
According to the Skanda Purana, the earthen lamps or the Diyas symbolise the Sun, describing it the cosmic giver of light and energy.
As per the Hindu epic Ramayana, Diwali is the day when Lord Rama, Goddess Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman returned to Ayodhya after spending 14 years in forests. Many Hindus also believe that Goddess Lakshmi was born on Diwali during the churning of cosmic ocean (Samudra Manthan).
A Vedic legend also suggests that it was on the night of Diwali when Goddess Lakshmi chose to stay with and wed Lord Vishnu. Along with Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Ganesha is also remembered as the symbol of new beginnings and worshipped on the day of Diwali.
People of East India associate Diwali with Goddess Durga and her fierce Kali avatar while people on Braj region of Northern India, people believe that Diwali was the day when Krishna overcame and destroyed evil king Narakasura.
Traders and merchant families offer prayers to Goddess Saraswati, who is worshipped as the giver of music, literature and wisdom. Kubera, who is worshipped as the lord of wealth, is also remembered on Diwali.
All the stories in Indian epics around Diwali zero down to a single fact; the victory of good over evil, knowledge over ignorance.