Diwali - Festival of Lights
Diwali, or Deepavali, is India’s biggest and most important holiday of the year. The festival gets its name from the clay lamps (deeps or diyas) that are lit outside homes to symbolize the inner light that is believed to protect everyone from evil and darkness.
Do you know the story behind Diwali according to Hindus? Well...allow us to tell you a much simpler, more captivating version. Lord Ram had a beautiful wife named Sita whom he cherished and loved dearly. One day, she was captured by the evil demon king, Ravana, because he wanted to make Sita his wife.
Ram and his younger brother, Lakshman, went on a search to find Sita and bring her back to their kingdom, which is called Ayodhya. Ram took the help of his best friend, Hanuman, who is the son of the wind God. After searching for a very long time, Hanuman found Sita captured on Ravana’s island. He got help from his army of monkeys to build a bridge to get to the island where Sita was trapped. Finally, after the bridge was built, they rushed across it and fought a mighty battle to get Sita away from Ravana.
Hanuman set Ravana’s island on fire with his tail while Ram quickly rescued Sita. When Ram killed the evil Ravana with a magic arrow, the whole world celebrated. Ram, Sita, and Lakshman began their long journey back to their home, Ayodhya. To welcome them back safely, everybody lit oil lamps in celebration and joy. Since then, people light lamps on Diwali to remember that light triumphs over dark and good triumphs over evil.
Diwali is celebrated with family gatherings, lighting lamps, festive fireworks, decorating with flowers, sharing of desserts, and worship to Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and good luck. People open their doors and windows and light lamps to invite Lakshmi inside their homes.
The 5 days of Diwali:
The first day is known as Dhanteras. ‘Dhan’ means wealth and ‘teras’ is the 13th day on the Hindu calendar. On this day prosperity is celebrated and people clean their house in preparation for Goddess Lakshmi who is welcomed into people’s homes.
Good over evil. The second day is known as Choti Diwali, meaning small Diwali. On this day the goddess Kali and Lord Krishna were believed to destroy the demon Narakasura.
The third day of the celebrations, the most significant day of the Diwali festival, which is known as Amavasya and it is the new moon day.
The fourth day of Diwali has various meanings across India. In the North, it is celebrated as the day when Lord Krishna defeated Indra, the god of thunder and rain, and Govardhan mountain pooja is performed. In Gujarat it is celebrated as the start of the new year.
The fifth day is known as Bhai Duj. It celebrates sisters, in the same way that Raksha Bandhan on August 1 is dedicated to brothers. Brothers and sisters get together to honor their bond and relationship and have a meal together.