Introduction to Diwali Festival
The festival of hindus that is credited to be the brightest and most important of all is Deepwali or Diwali. “Deep” in hindi means lights and “avali” stands for rows. This name is quite self explanatory of the way this festival is celebrated as people decorate their houses with rows of lights, either electric or earthen “diyas” or oil lamps. The festival is celebrated for four days and all four days have different traditions and significance behind them. All the days may have different scheme of celebration behind it but what stands constant is the fact that Diwali is marked by a carnival of life, happiness and prosperity.
What is the Origin of Diwali Festival?
Diwali traces back its origins to the plains of central India where it was celebrated mainly as a harvest festival. However, there are many a legends behind its celebrations apart from it being a day of celebration of harvest. It is also believed to be the day that commemorates the day of marriage of Goddess Laxmi with Lord Vishnu, one among the trinity of hindu gods. The state of West Bengal celebrates it by worshiping a dark Goddess of Hindu Mythology, Goddess Kali. Another legend behind the day is it being the day when Lord Mahavira, the God of Jain community, attained Nirvana or eternal bliss. Hindu households also worship Lord Ganesha, the God who is supposed to give good beginnings to new ventures. The most widely accepted reason behind the celebration of Diwali in North India is as the day that commemorates the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after an exile of 14 years and after having slain “Ravana”, a learned but evil Brahman demon king. People rejoice his return to his own land as the victory of good over evil.
All four days of Diwali festival have their own tales, myths and legends to talk about. The first day, called Narak Choudas commemorates the event of a demon called Naraka being killed by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama. The second day is a new moon day or Amavasya as called in Hindi and is devoted to the worship of Goddess of wealth, Laxmi. Legend goes that Lord Vishnu took a dwarf incarnation to defeat Bali, an oppressor king and exiled him to hell. Bali was allowed to tread the Earth only once a year to eradicate darkness and ignorance and spread love and wisdom. The third day marks the day when Lord Vishnu returns to the Earth and rules it for a day. This day is known as Shudda Padyami. The fourth day is the Yama Dwitiya or Bhai Dooj and sisters invite brothers to their homes on this day.
Traditions associate with Diwali Festival:
The celebration involves lighting earthen lamps, distributing sweets and worshiping Goddess Laxmi, the Hindu Goddess expected to bring prosperity to the worshiper.
On this day, people light up their homes and burst crackers in the night. This tradition is an expression of the people of earth telling the Gods in heavens about their prosperous state and bliss. It also marks the joyous mood of the people of India, particularly Ayodhya, on receiving their king back after 14 years. Another possible and scientific reason is that fumes of crackers kill mosquitoes and other pests of the house.
Indians gamble on the night of Diwali and the legend has it that Goddess Parvati, wife of Lord Shiva played dice with her husband and declared that whosoever gambles on this day will be blessed with prosperity throughout the year. This belief has found wide acceptance among Indians fond of trying their luck who gamble throughout the night.
What are some implications associated with Diwali Festival:
- With the increasing population, enthusiasm and the means to celebrate, the streets of cities get overcrowded on the days preceding the festival. People crowd the streets to shop around resulting in overcrowded streets and traffic jams.
- All trains are expected to be running with no room available and getting reservations may be a difficult nut to crack. It is hence recommended that anyone who intends undertaking a train travel must do so with advance planning and reservations. More of this point in another article related to Implications of Diwali Festival.
- One shall also expect crackers bursting in the middle of the roads with the traffic halted. It is advised to be cautious while driving as the joyous mood of the Indians knows no bounds when it comes to celebrating Diwali and you may come across unattended crackers on the streets.
- On a positive note for shopaholics, this is the best time to be in the market as the market is replete with discounts offers and schemes for buyers. All online shopping companies lure buyers by offering freebies and discounts. Lots of deals especially on home products like TV, Fridge, Furniture etc.
Diwali festival is definitely the time to be in India. What is Christmas to European, Diwali festival is to Indians. One of the most celebrated festival in India is Diwali. Happy Diwali to all!