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Diwali / Deepawali - Festival of Lights

Diwali / Deepawali – Festival of Lights

Diwali / Deepawali – Festival of Lights is an important and popular festival celebrated throughout the country in one form or the other. It falls on the last day of the dark half of Kartika (October – November). As a matter of fact it is a five-day long festival, but the main celebrations are on Diwali.

Earthen LampDiwali is associated with several legends. One myth says that on this auspicious day Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and good fortune roams about and visits the houses of people. Therefore, people tidy up their homes, establishments and shops and decorate them lavishly to welcome the goddess. In the night she is worshipped with great devotion. It is also commemorates the triumph of Lord Rama over Ravana, and Rama returns to Ayodhya. It is also this day that Krishna killed the demon Narkasura.

Nook and CornerA few days before the festival, the houses are whitewashed and completely cleaned. The courtyards, the gates and the place of worship are decorated with bandanvars, flowers intricate colored paperwork and at night every nook and corner of the house, etc., is illuminated with earthen lamps, candles, and fireworks are displayed. People get up early in the morning and have bath and then move about freely in an atmosphere of gaiety, mirth, rejoicing and festivity. Lots of sweets are prepared and exchanged.

Diwali PujaOn this occasion people ask for each other’s forgiveness for the wrongs done knowingly or unknowingly and mutual relations are reestablished and strengthened. Thus, all enmity is forgiven and forgotten and people embrace one another. At night, Lakshmi along with Ganesha is worshipped, old accounts are closed and new ones are opened. People in throngs go about the bazaars and streets during the night and appreciate the finest illumination. Special shops and bazaars are also set up on this occasion, and there is a brisk buying of sweets, utensils, clothes, jewellery, toys etc.

CandlesDiwali also marks the advent of new season and the sowing of new crops. On this day begins the new Vikrama Era and new account books are opened. The famous king Vikramaditya, after whose name the era is, was crowned on this day. People greet each other and distribute sweets. In Bengal Kali is worshipped with great fervour on this day. The Jains celebrate Diwali as a day of final liberation and moksha of Lord Mahavira. Similarly Swami Dayananda Sarswati, the founder of Arya Samaj, attained salvation on this day. The great Swami Rama Tirtha also entered his final jal-samadhi on this tithi. At great Jaina shrines like that of Pavapuri in Bihar, and Girnar in Gujarat, special puja festivals are held, sacred scriptures read and recited and Lord Mahavira worshipped. Thus, this great festival of lights symbolizes man’s urge to move towards light of truth from darkness of ignorance and unhappiness.

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