India is a land of cultural heritage and festivals are the main attractions. It is the land where each and every celebration has some significance and so does Diwali. It is one of the most glamorous festivals celebrated in India and is popularly known as the ‘festival of lights’. Diwali signifies the victory of good over evil and light over darkness.
Diwali: Celebration of five days
The festival Diwali is a five day celebration and it starts with ‘Dhanteras’. This day holds important significance for the business community because of the customary buying of precious metals like gold and silver on this very day. It is an auspicious day when Hindus purchase gold, silver and utensils and it is believed to be a sign of good luck.
The second day of Diwali is known as ‘Naraka Chaturdasi’. On this day Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasur and made the world free from his terror.
The third day of Diwali is the worship of Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth. This day signifies welcoming of wealth, health and prosperity. On this day Lakshmi Pooja is performed and people lit earthen diyas and candles all over their house and burn firecrackers to keep away evils.
The fourth day of Diwali marks ‘Kartika Shudda Padyami’. And, the fifth day ends with ‘Bhai Dooj’ which signifies the bonding between brother and sister.
Legendary story behind Diwali!
Diwali originated in the honour of Lord Rama, his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, when they returned home to the kingdom of Ayodhyaa after 14 years of long exile defeating the demon-king, Ravana. On the return of King Rama, people of Ayodhyaa lit the whole kingdom with clay diyas and celebrated the joy bursting firecrackers.
Significance of diyas and candles:
Earthen Diyas, paper lanterns, lamps and candles are the main features in Diwali. People decorate their homes with artistic designed diyas, hanging paper lanterns and candles to keep away evil spirits. It is said that Diwali marks the conquest of good over evil and light over the darkness. Also, lighting diyas and candles considered as a good symbol which welcomes Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi to bestow prosperity, peace, knowledge and good health.
Celebration of Diwali in India:
Diwali is celebrated grandly in the Northern part of India. All the buildings, shops, houses and streets are illuminated with clay lamps, electric bulbs and candles. They have a tradition to gift their near and dear ones with silver coins, sweets and dry fruits. Interestingly, in places like Punjab, Haryana and Delhi, people play cards in Diwali. In South India, Diwali celebration starts with cleaning the house and putting kolam (rangoli). Everywhere in India, bursting firecrackers is the main attraction.
However, in the eastern part of India in West Bengal, Kali Pooja is another important draw of Bengal soon after the grand celebration of Durga Pooja. West Bengal celebrates Kali Pooja which coincides with the Diwali Festival with the same enthusiasm. The only evident difference is that while rest of India worships Goddess Lakshmi on this day, Goddess Kali is the chief deity for the occasion in West Bengal. This is celebrated on the eve of Amavasya of Kartik month as per Hindu calendar which is on the month of October/ November.
Firecrackers, sweets, earthen diyas and rangoli are the known flavours of Diwali celebration. It is a celebration of lights. India celebrates this festival with great joy and belief. It is a time that reunites family, friends and relatives.