Diwali – The Festival of Lights
Diwali, the festival of lights, holds great importance in the Hindu religion. This festival is celebrated annually in autumn, usually in October or November, depending on the Hindu calendar. It is a time of happiness and celebration for millions of people of Indian Origin across the world.
Festival of lights: The lighting of diyas (oil lamps) and candles is an essential ritual during Diwali, which is why the festival is also referred to as Deepavali – “Deep” means lamp, and “avali” means row.
The lighting of diyas and candles signifies the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. The lamps also evoke the presence of the divine, symbolized by the light that fills every corner of the home. Apart from lighting diyas, people also light firecrackers.
Diwali dates back to ancient India during the Maurya dynasty, around 300 BCE. The origin of Diwali can be traced back to ancient India and Hindu mythology. According to Hindu mythology, Diwali commemorates the return of Lord Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile and their victory over the demon king Ravana. It is said that the people of Ayodhya lit diyas (oil lamps) to welcome Lord Rama. They also decorated their homes with flowers and rangolis. The tradition of lighting lamps on Diwali started as a way of celebrating their return.
Diwali is also connected to the story of the churning of the ocean or Samudra Manthan. It is said that during this event, several precious items, including Goddess Lakshmi, appeared. People celebrate the day as her birthday and pray to the goddess for wealth and prosperity.
This festival also celebrates Lord Krishna’s victory over the demon Narakasura, who was spreading darkness and chaos.
Lakshmi Pujan: In some parts of India, especially in North India, Diwali is celebrated as the birthday of Goddess Lakshmi. On this day, people worship and seek blessings from the goddess of wealth and prosperity to ensure good fortune and wealth in the coming year. The day is also known as “Lakshmi Pujan,” wherein people decorate their houses with rangolis, light diyas and candles, and pray for Goddess Lakshmi’s blessings. The lighting of lamps outside homes and workplaces is also believed to welcome Goddess Lakshmi, who is the goddess of wealth and prosperity.
Significance of Diwali:
Diwali is a celebration of the victory of good over evil with significant religious, cultural, and spiritual significance. Diwali is an opportunity to reflect on personal growth, strengthen bonds, and spread joy. It is a time of introspection and spiritual reflection, with high spiritual energy. Diwali marks the end of the harvest season, celebrating the abundance of crops.
For Hindus, Diwali is a significant religious festival. It celebrates the return of Lord Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana to Ayodhya and their victory over the demon king Ravana.
People from different cultures and religions come together to celebrate the festival and share happiness. It is a time for families to come together and bond over traditional food, gifts, and decorations using diyas.
Rangolis are intricate designs made from colored powder, rice, or flowers, representing traditional Indian art. These designs are a significant aspect of Diwali decorations and are believed to bring happiness, prosperity, and positive energy to the home. Women often make rangolis at the entrance of their homes or in the courtyard to welcome guests and deities. Rangolis are an essential part of the Indian culture, and its diversity can be seen in the different designs used in different regions of India.
Preparations for Diwali Celebrations:
Preparations for Diwali begin weeks before the actual festival. People start cleaning and decorating their homes with lights, diyas, colorful rangolis, and flowers. They also buy new clothes, make traditional sweets and snacks, and purchase gifts for their loved ones. This is also a time when people renovate and repair their homes, which gives an additional boost to the service industry.
Traditional Diwali Food and Sweets:
Traditional Diwali food and sweets are an integral part of the celebrations. People make and share sweet delicacies such as Ladoo, Gulab Jamun, or Kaju Katli. Some savory dishes like Aloo Tikki, Samosas, and Chole Bhature are also popular during the festival. This food tradition is an example of the importance of food and sharing in Indian culture. According to the reports, during the Diwali season, the sale of sweets and snacks increases by 30-40%. Many small businesses and local vendors benefit from this increased demand for traditional food and sweet delicacies.
Diwali Gift Exchange:
Gift-giving is an essential aspect of Diwali celebrations as it strengthens relationships and goodwill. It is a tradition to exchange gifts with family, friends, and colleagues during the festival. People exchange traditional sweets, dry fruits, and delectable treats. Besides, people also gift items such as clothes, jewelry, and accessories.
In recent years, there has been an increasing awareness of the environmental impact of traditional Diwali celebrations, and many people are opting for eco-friendly alternatives. Besides eco-friendly fireworks, decoration items like plastic lights and synthetic flowers have also been replaced with eco-friendly alternatives like earthen diyas and flowers, which can be composted after use. This environmentally conscious approach to Diwali helps in promoting sustainable living.
Diwali Mela is a fair organized during the festival season in many cities and towns across India, where people come together to indulge in traditional food, sweets, and handicrafts. The fairs also have cultural programs like music and dance performances, art exhibitions, and interesting games. The Diwali Mela is a great way for people to come together to indulge in excitement and festivities.
Diwali Celebrations Around the World:
Diwali is celebrated not only in India but also in many other countries with significant Indian communities, including the UK, UAE, USA, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, and Fiji. In cities like Leicester in the UK, Diwali is celebrated with a huge street parade and colorful firework displays. Diwali is a way for Indian communities around the world to connect with their roots and celebrate their culture.
Impact on Tourism:
Diwali is a popular time for tourists to visit India, as the festival is a unique and vibrant cultural experience. Many people from around the world come to India to witness the spectacular firework displays and the lighting of diyas. Popular tourist destinations during this time include Jaipur, Jaisalmer, and Udaipur.
Charity Work and Donations:
In India, the festival of Diwali is also a time for giving and helping those in need. Many charitable organizations and individuals donate to the less fortunate during this time, such as food, clothing, and money. This aspect of Diwali highlights the importance of empathy and compassion in Indian culture and helps to lessen the economic and social gap among people.
Diwali is one of the most significant festivals in Hinduism, celebrated across the world with great zeal and enthusiasm. It signifies the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness, and is a time for rejoicing with family and friends. The festival is not only a celebration of material wealth but also a reminder to practice spiritual values such as kindness, love, and compassion. The festival’s message is timeless, and people from all walks of life and religions can benefit from the spirit of Diwali. As we light up our homes with diyas, let us also light up our hearts with positivity and radiate hope to those around us.