Diwali, or Dipawali, is India’s biggest and most important holiday of the year. The festival gets its name from the row(avali) of clay lamps (deepa) that Indians light outside their homes to symbolize the inner light that protects us from spiritual darkness. This festival is as important to Hindus as the Christmas holiday is to Christians.
Diwali is a major festival of India. It is celebrated on a new moon night sometime in the months of October and November. The exact day of the festival is decided according to the Hindu calendar. The day is primarily celebrated to commemorate the return of Lord Rama from his 14 years of exile. However, there are various other stories associated with the festival.
India was an agricultural society where people would seek the divine blessing of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, as they closed their accounting books and prayed for success at the outset of a new financial year. Today this practice extends to businesses all over the Indian subcontinent, which mark the day after Diwali as the first day of the new financial year.
The Origin 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.
Deepawali or Diwali is a festival of lights symbolizing the victory of righteousness and the lifting of spiritual darkness. The word “Deepawali” refers to rows of diyas, or clay lamps. This is one of the most popular festivals in the Hindu calendar. It is celebrated on the 15th day of Kartika, according to the Hindu calendar. This festival commemorates Lord Rama’s return to his kingdom Ayodhya after completing his 14-year exile. The myths around Rama and Ravana are told during another holiday, known as Dussehra or Vijaya Dashami.
The Goddess Lakshmi was Vishnu’s consort and she symbolizes wealth and prosperity. She is also worshipped on Diwali. This festival is celebrated in West Bengal as “Kali Puja”, and Kali, Shiva’s consort, is worshipped during Diwali. The Diwali festival in southern India often commemorates the conquering of the Asura Naraka, a king of Assam who imprisoned many people. It is believed that Krishna freed the prisoners.
Indians celebrate with family gatherings, glittering clay lamps, festive fireworks, strings of electric lights, bonfires, flowers, sharing of sweets, and worship to Lakshmi. Some believe that Lakshmi wanders the Earth looking for homes where she will be welcomed. People open their doors and windows and light lamps to invite Lakshmi in.