One of the most significant festivals in Indian culture, Diwali, the festival of lights, sees millions attend firework displays, prayers and celebratory events across the world every autumn.
The festival is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains for a variety of reasons, although the main theme which runs throughout is the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil.
To celebrate, houses are decorated with candles and colourful lights and huge firework displays are held while families feast and share gifts.
Diwali is the five-day festival of lights, celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. The festival, which coincides with the Hindu New Year, celebrates new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. The actual day of Diwali is traditionally celebrated on the festival’s third day, which this year falls on Thursday, October 23. The festival usually falls between the middle of October and the middle of November, although this is decided upon by the Hindu lunar calendar. While each faith has its own reason to celebrate the festival, one of the most popular stories told is the legend of Lord Rama and his wife Sita returning to their kingdom in northern India from exile after defeating the demon king Ravanna in the 15th century BC.
Diwali is perhaps the most well-known of the Hindu festivals.
The word Diwali means ‘rows of lighted lamps’. Diwali is known as the ‘festival of lights’ because houses, shops and public places are decorated with small earthenware oil lamps called diyas
For many Indians this five day festival honours Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.
People start the new business year at Diwali, and some Hindus will say prayers to the goddess for a successful year.
Lamps are lit to help Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, find her way into people’s homes.
In Britain, as in India, the festival is a time for:
- spring-cleaning the home,
- wearing new clothes
- exchanging gifts (often sweets and dried fruits) and preparing festive meals
- decorating buildings with fancy lights.
- huge firework displays often celebrate Divali.
In India Hindus will leave the windows and doors of their houses open so that Lakshmi can come in. Rangoli are drawn on the floors – rangoli are patterns and the most popular subject is the lotus flower.
The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance, although the actual legends that go with the festival are different in different parts of India:
- In northern India and elsewhere, Diwali celebrates Rama’s return from fourteen years of exile to Ayodhya after the defeat of Ravana and his subsequent coronation as king;
- In Gujarat, the festival honours Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth;
- In Nepal Diwali commemorates the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon king Narakaasura;
- In Bengal, it is associated with the goddess Kali.
We start our Diwali evening by praying. Next we decorate our house with candles, thanking God for all he has given us. It looks beautiful when the oil lamps twinkle together in all the houses. Then late at night we get together and light the crackers. There is a lot of noise and air pollution. Then we have a small party where we eat and enjoy.
In short, Diwali is festival of excitement. According to me, this festival should never end but anything that has started should meet its end. But, this festival always ends happily. I like this festival very much.
The evening is most interesting part of the day when houses are illuminated with earthen lamps or candles. Children burst crackers. One hears the sound of bursting bombs across the city. Every one looks happy. People worship the goddess the wealth ‘Lakshmi’. They pray for health and wealth. People start their new business from this day.
Diwali is considered the best festival all over India. It is called the festival of lights. It gives a message of love, brotherhood and friendship. The heart of every one should be illuminated with light.