Basic Knowledge About Diwali - The Indian Festival of Light
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One of the most joyful and beautiful festivals to be celebrated on the Indian subcontinent is Diwali, the festival of lights. The very word Diwali conjures up the image of winking lights and flickering diyas.
One of the most joyful and beautiful festivals to be celebrated on the Indian subcontinent is Diwali, the festival of lights. The very word Diwali conjures up the image of winking lights and flickering diyas. Not to forget the gorgeous array of sparkling colours emitted by the firecrackers that seem to awaken the night sky.
Coming close on the heels of Dussehra, Diwali is celebrated on the last day of the Gujarati calendar year, and generally comes in the months of October or November, on the English calendar. It is one of the most important Indian festivals and is celebrated on a mass scale by Indians not only in India, but also all over the world.
The Story Behind Diwali
It is believed that on this day Lord Rama, along with his consort Sita and loyal brother Lakshman was returning to his hometown Ayodhya after 14 long years of exile in the forest. He had just finished battling and overcoming the fierce demon king of Ceylon, Ravana, who had abducted Sita. In this battle he was ably helped by Lord Hanuman and his army of monkeys as well as an army of courageous bears.
The people of Ayodhya lit lamps in every home to welcome their true King as well as celebrate his victory over Ravana and also the safe return of their Queen Sita. They danced and made merry and lit firecrackers to express their joy over his return. And as a mark of respect and worship the festivities continue every year till this today.
As another lesser-known story goes, Lord Krishna had battled a demon called Narakasura and emerged victorious. The people of the city were overjoyed and welcomed Krishna back with lamps in their hands.
Since Rama and Krishna are two of the most popular gods in the Hindu lore, it is only logical that Diwali is celebrated with such pomp and glory.
How is Diwali Celebrated?
According to an ancient myth, Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth travels through all our homes on Diwali night and stops to bless the homes that are shiny and sparkling clean. So as this festival approaches, all houses go through a thorough spring-cleaning in anticipation of her wealth and blessings. She will be greeted by a beautiful gaily painted Rangoli on the threshold of each home while inside too she is welcomed by an array of sparklers and little earthen lamps that light up and considerably brighten the atmosphere.
The actual festivities start from Dhanteras, which is celebrated two days before Diwali. Everybody goes out of their way to make big purchases and buy new clothes and jewellery. This is because this day is considered auspicious for wealth, and it is said that if you buy any silver or gold on this day, you will be lucky throughout the year. The goddess Lakshmi is worshiped on this day through a Lakshmipujan, which is performed not only in the homes but in shops and offices as well.
But what would Diwali be without a burst of firecrackers and lights? The sound and light show starts at least a week prior to the actual festival and continues way into the New Year. Of course it reaches a crescendo on the day of Diwali itself, a day when people dress up in their best new clothes and go visiting each other, their relatives and friends with boxes of dry fruits and sweets and loads of love in their huge generous hearts.
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