Diwali Festival of Lights – History, Significance, and Celebration
Diwali is also referred to as the festival of lights which is celebrated every year in the spring according to the Southern hemisphere (autumn in the Northern hemisphere). Diwali is also known as Dipavali or Deepavali. It is a festival which is celebrated nation-wide.
This day is proclaimed as an official holiday not only in India but also countries where we have a lot of Hindu population like in Fiji Guyana, Myanmar, Malaysia, Nepal, Mauritius, Singapore, Trinidad, and Tobago, Srilanka, US, Canada and last but not the least in Sindh, a province in Pakistan.
Diwali is the most popular festival of Hindu religion, whose spirituality signifies “The victory of good over the evil”, “The victory of the light over the darkness”, “Hope over Despair” and “Knowledge over the ignorance”. The celebration of this festival includes millions of lights which shine on the house’s rooftop, near doors and windows in countries where it is observed.
The rituals and preparations of this festival extend up to five days. But the main festival of Diwali is celebrated in the night which is the darkest night of the Hindu Lunisolar month, which we all know as “Kartikmaas”. The Diwali night falls between mid-October to mid-November.
Before Diwali, people proactively participate in homely works such as decorating, renovating, cleaning the house, etc. On the Diwali night, people dress up themselves with new traditional clothes or maybe with the outfits which comfort them, light up earthen lamps(diyas) and candles inside their respective homes and outdoors too. The whole family typically offers prayers to Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity. On this day after prayers to the goddess, crackers are burnt and followed by a family feast which includes the exchange of sweets and many more food items.
The range of this festival varies significantly among Hindus. In various parts of India, the festivities start with Dhanteras which is the first day, Naraka Chaturdashi on the second day, Deepavali on the third day, Diwali Padva(which is specially dedicated to the wife-husband relationship)or GoverdhanPoojaon the fourth day, & the last & fifth day is Bhai-Dooj which is dedicated to sister-brother bond.
History of Diwali
Diwali was celebrated in India since ancient times. Now it’s not easy to tell what the real reason behind its origin was. Different individuals think that the cause behind this festival is varying occurrences. Possibly behind the Diwali (Deepavali) festivities are ten mythical and historical reasons.
The great Hindu epic, The Ramayana, is the most well-known story behind Diwali. According to Ramayana, King Dasharatha, instructed Ayodhya’s prince, his son Rama, to leave his nation and return after fourteen years of living in the woods. So Rama and his dedicated wife Sita and loyal brother Lakshmana came into exile. When Ravana, Lanka’s demon king, kidnapped Sita and took her to his Lanka island kingdom, Rama fought against Ravana and killed him. After fourteen years of exile and after freeing upSitafrom Ravana on this day Rama returned to Ayodhya. Ayodhya’s individuals were very pleased to hear about the homecoming of their beloved prince. They lit their homes with earthen lamps (diyas) to celebrate Rama’s return to Ayodhya, burst crackers and decorated the entire town in the greatest way.
This is supposed to have begun Diwali’s tradition. Lord Rama’s homecoming is celebrated as Diwali year after year with lights, fireworks, crackers bursting and merriment. The festival takes its name from the rows (avail) of lights (Deepak) that the individuals of Ayodhya lit to welcome their King.
The other Hindu epic,’ Mahabharata,’ narrates another well-known tale linked to Diwali history.
Mahabharata shows how in a match of dice (gambling) the five royal brothers, the Pandavas, endured a defeat in their brothers’ hands, the Kauravas. The Pandavas had to serve a 13-year term in exile as a law enforced on them. When the period was over, they returned on’ KartikAmavasya’ (the new moon day of the Kartik month) to their birthplace Hastinapura. The five Pandava siblings, Draupadi’s mother, and wife were frank, kind, gentle and caring in their ways and loved by all. To celebrate the happy occasion of their return to Hastinapura and to welcome the Pandavas back, the ordinary people illuminated their state by lighting bright earthen lamps everywhere. It is thought that the tradition has been kept alive through the Diwali festival, which many think, is held in the memory of the homecoming of the Pandava siblings.
Diwali is celebrated with adequate rituals and preparations as one of the happiest holidays in India, Nepal and many countries worldwide. People are actively involved in homely activities like cleaning the home, renovating, decorating, etc. before Diwali. People dress up in new traditional clothes on this night, light up lamps and candles(diyas) inside their respective homes and also outside. Goddess Lakshmi –goddess of prosperity–is typically involved in prayers by the entire family members. This day after prayers to goddess crackers are burned and followed by a family feast. Diwali is one of the largest shopping seasons of India, where individuals tend to purchase fresh new clothes depending on their convenience, choice, will and so on. Clothes are purchased for family members as well as home appliances, gifts, kitchen utensils, even costly vehicles, and jewelry are purchased as well.
People give family members and friends sweets, dry fruits, and seasonal specialties. It’s time to create time for each family member and friend and celebrate with crackers gladly. It’s also a time when kids get an opportunity to listen to ancient tales about why Diwali is being celebrated.
The spiritual significance of Diwali
Diwali is celebrated as the asura implies that on this very day Lord Krishna, Satyabhama, and Kale murdered the demon Narakasura. Diwali is celebrated and accompanied by preparations in the early morning ritualsinTelangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Goa, and Karnataka.
Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs celebrate Diwali to mark different historical occurrences. And the stories that symbolize light’s victory over darkness, this festival is the celebration of spiritual darkness by inner light.
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