How do people celebrate Diwali in India?

How do people celebrate Diwali in India?

Diwali, ‘Festival of Lights’, is celebrated with great fervor and gaiety. Diwali is celebrated by young and old, rich and poor, throughout the country to dispel darkness and light up their lives. The festival symbolizes unity in diversity as every state celebrates it in its own special way. The celebration of the four-day festival commences on Aswayuja Bahula Chaturdasi and concludes on Kartika Shudda Vijiya. The first day of the festival Naraka Chaturdasi marks the vanquishing of the demon Naraka by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama.

As with other Indian festivals, Diwali signifies many different things to people across the country. In north India, Deepavali Festival celebrates Rama’s homecoming, that is his return to Ayodhya after the defeat of Ravana and his coronation as king; in Gujarat, the festival honors Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth; and in Bengal, it is associated with the goddess Kali. Everywhere, it signifies the renewal of life, and accordingly it is common to wear new clothes on the day of the festival; similarly, it heralds the approach of winter and the beginning of the sowing season.

Celebrations in the home vary from region to region, and from family to family. For some the day is celebrated with religious fasts, oil baths and other rituals, while for others it is primarily a social occasion with visiting relatives and friends, exchange of sweets and food items, and a time of giving and receiving new clothes or utensils for the year.

Merchants are particularly interested in attracting the good graces of the goddess, and many begin their fiscal year at this time. Likewise, gambling is a common pastime during this festival, for it is believed that the winner will have financial success during the year. For some families a special box is kept inside the home, and on this day a silver or gold coin will be added in Laxmi’s honor.

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