Diwali (Deepavali) is one of the biggest festivals for Hindus, celebrated with great enthusiasm and happiness all across India. The festival is celebrated for five continuous days, with the third day celebrated as the main Diwali festival or ‘Festival of Lights.’ Different colorful varieties of fireworks are always associated with the holiday. On this auspicious day, people light up diyas and candles all around their house. They perform Lakshmi Puja in the evening, placing small oil lamps or candles inside and outside their homes, and seek divine blessings of the Goddess of Wealth. Other gods and goddesses are celebrated as well, and each has their own legend. The Diwali festival also celebrates the autumn harvest. The celebration of Diwali is never complete without the exchange of gifts. In fact, Deepavali also marks a significant shopping period in nations where it is celebrated.
Each simple ritual practiced during Diwali has unique significance. The illumination of homes with lights and the skies with firecrackers is an expression of obeisance to the heavens for the attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace, and prosperity. Firecrackers are lit for two main reasons. One, the sound of the fire-crackers is an indication of the joy of the people living on earth, making the gods aware of their plentiful state. Another, more scientific basis, is that the fumes produced by the firecrackers kill a lot of insects and mosquitoes, found in plenty after the rains.
Diwali festivals differ depending on the region of India. For example, the festivities start with Dhanteras and last for five days in Northern and Western parts of India. In contrast, the festival may be shorter in Southern India. It is important to note that Diwali is not just an essential holiday for Hindus. On the same night that Hindus celebrate Diwali, Jains celebrate a festival of lights to mark the attainment of moksha by Mahavira, Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas, and some Buddhists also celebrate Diwali remembering Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism. Diwali is an official holiday in Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore, and Fiji, and it is also celebrated in many other countries.
For more information about Diwali visit: www.diwalifestival.org/legends-of-diwali.html