Diwali, the festival of lights, is a time of celebration and a time for reflection. It also coincides with the heart-warming practice of exchanging sweetmeats with neighbours, friends and extended family to strengthen bonds with one another. It brings the community together. It also inculcates in participants the sense of joy associated with giving. And by doing it especially during Diwali, strengthens our inclination to give others in times of need. It brings together people of all religion to enjoy the celebration.
Diwali is not just about illuminating houses and paths. Persons must ignite the divine light within and let it radiate outward so that it touches all those we come across.
Diwali is celebrated for many reasons; but the most commonly known reason is to celebrate the day Sri Rama, Sitaji, and Lakshman returned from their exile of 14 years in the forest – symbolising a win of good over evil. By the Hindu calendar, it also marks the start of the New Year calendar. In fact, Diwali is considered so auspicious that it is celebrated with families and friends for over five days. The Sanskrit word “Deepavali” means “an array of lights” that signifies the victory of brightness over darkness. It means a row of lights and indeed illumination that forms its main attraction.
Dhanteras has got its name from two words ‘Dhan’ meaning wealth and ‘Teras’ that means thirteenth. The auspicious occasion of Dhanteras holds an important place in the Business community of India and celebrated with utmost divinity and enthusiasm. Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth, fortune, power, luxury, beauty, fertility, and auspiciousness holds the promise of material fulfilment and contentment. In many households, gold and money are worshipped with reverence; new account books are opened in business houses for the new fiscal year and old ones wound up. Many Hindus would have already cleaned their place of abode which according to tradition welcomes the goddess of wealth which is also associated with the festival.
Historically, the origin of Diwali can be traced back to ancient India, when it was probably an important harvest festival. The excitement and celebratory spirit that Diwali brings is unmatchable. Celebrating Diwali with friends and family has its own charm. Diwali, the festival of lights, celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains in India and around the world, is dedicated to the triumph of good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. It honours the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, and the legend of Rama and Sita. Festivities include decorating houses and public spaces with thousands of lights, candles and colourful designs. Fireworks, family gathering and gift giving also form a part of the celebrations. The Hindu festival which signifies the victory of good over evil. During this tenure, thousands of years ago, Hindus saw the return of Lord Rama back in the princely state of Ayodhya after crushing Ravana in Sri Lankan area. The battle was iconic, mammoth and involved good forces of heavenly bodies, supernatural spirits and blessings of mother goddess – Durga over powerful demonic forces of Ravana and his associates.
The growing ethnic and cultural diversity of Hindu religion throughout the world provides the opportunity to participate in the celebrations and rituals of Diwali festival that enhances the feeling of being a part of a close-knit group of Indians. Most Diwali celebrations around the world focus on family and friends and it is a time to reflect on the past and envision for a future, perhaps, in a world where people live together in harmony.
Outside India also, as Diwali approaches, people clean their home to escape bad luck in the upcoming year and families gather for a feast and stay up late, celebrating with the help of crackers and sweets. They believe that the Hindu goddess of good luck visits homes that are brightly lit. Children make “diyas” which are small clay lamps to light and bring good luck to their home so they can receive new clothes and toys.
Let us enjoy our lives and always remember “Life comes once only. No retake/replay/rewind/once more. One should enjoy it. Be happy and keep others happy too.”
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)