Diwali, also known as Deepavali is one of the major Hindu festivals in India. It falls during the period on mid-October to mid-November and is celebrated with great pomp and respect. The significance of Diwali associates to different rituals, celebrations, historical facts and beliefs. Diwali involves a lot of rituals including special baths, foods, lights, cleanliness and more. Let us know more about the significance of Diwali in detail.
Diwali – The Festival of Lights
The original meaning of Diwali/Deepavali translates to ‘row of lights’ or ‘cluster of lights’. On the day of Diwali, people decorate their houses with lights (known as diyas) and paint floors with rangoli. The day starts with taking traditional oil bath and putting on new clothes. On the occasion of Diwali people gift sweets to guests who come over and reunite with families and relatives. Extensive cleaning of homes is done before Diwali in order to invite Lakshmi – Goddess of wealth. For this reason, Diwali is also known as ‘Festival of Cleanliness’. During Diwali, people pay off old debts, buy new clothes and welcome a new phase. However, the rituals of celebrations differ from one place to another across the country. Different regions and communities of the country explain the significance of Diwali in different ways. Here are some well-known stories associated with this festival.
Historical Significance of Diwali
There are several stories associated with the reason behind celebrating Diwali. One famous story is the one associated with Lord Rama. Diwali is said to be celebrated when Lord Rama returned to his people after 14 years of exile where he killed the Demon King, Ravana. People lit up their houses with lights and welcomed Lord Rama. Another popular story is associated with Lord Krishna killing Narakasura. Narakasura is the demon who troubled and imprisoned inhabitants. Yet another story about the significance of Diwali is related to the birth of Goddess Lakshmi. Goddess Lakshmi is said to have taken birth on this day from Samudra manthan after churning of cosmic ocean of milk by gods and demons. Due to this very fact, Lakshmi puja is arranged on the day of Diwali and Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped for wealth and prosperity. Although the detail of each of the stories is different, the core value remains the same in all communities. It is the victory of ‘good over evil’, ‘light over darkness’, ‘knowledge over ignorance’ that accounts to the significance of Diwali.
The 5 Day Festival of Diwali
Diwali is actually celebrated for 5 days starting from Dhanteras. Dhanteras which translates to Dhan – wealth and teras – 13th is the 13th day of the lunar month. On this day people clean their homes in and out and offer prayers to Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth. The second day of this festival is Naraka Chaturdashi which is also known as ‘Choti Diwali’. In the southern region of India, however, this day is celebrated as main Diwali. The day majorly includes purchasing and preparing sweets and homemade delicacies. The third day of Diwali is the day of Lakhsmi Puja and the main Diwali. People wear traditional Indian clothes, invite guests and offer them sweets and presents. On the night of Diwali children burst crackers and fireworks. The fourth day is the day of Goverdhan puja or ‘bali pratipada’. On this day people celebrate the relationship and bond between husband and wife. And the last day of Diwali is Bhai Dooj or Bhau Beej which is the festival to celebrate the bond between brothers and sisters. On this day Lord Krishna is said to have arrived to his sister Subhadra’s place and hence the bond is celebrated by wearing new clothes and feeding siblings with hands. This sums up the five-day festival of Diwali. Homes are lit up with fireworks all throughout the festival and everyday is celebrated with great importance.
Apart from this, some melas and events also take place in towns and villages during Diwali season. The mela consists of products and works made by artisans, foods, handicrafts, clothing items, entertainment activities, etc. And for business people, Diwali is the festival of new beginning of their accounts. No matter the place and community, people celebrate this festival with great devotion and enthusiasm through out the country.