India celebrates a festival almost every month and thus, has been rightly called the Country of Festivals. There are about ten major festivals that Indians celebrate with great vigor. Amongst them, Deepavali is the last but the most lavish and vibrant of all Indian festivals. Deepavali is popularly known as the festival of lights. It signifies the triumph of good over evil. The word 'Deepavali' comes from the words 'Deepa' and 'Aval'i; which means row of lights in Sanskrit. It is truly the most awaited Indian festival. While cleaning the house, preparing lavish food, lighting lamps or diyas and performing pooja are the main activities of the festival, adults and children engage in bursting crackers also to rejoice and make merry.
Deepavali is celebrated in Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism. In each of these the significance varies. For Jains the day marks as the day when Mahavira attained nirvana in 527 B.C. Sikhs associate Deepavali or Diwali with the release of their sixth guru from prison named Guru Hargobind. Hindus celebrate Diwali for more than one reason. The most popular association is with day that Ram, the son Dasharatha, king of Ayodhya, returned from his banishment after 14 years. His return was welcomed by deep or diya that were lit in ghee. Another association is with the death of Narakasura by Krishna's wife Satyabhama. This is celebrated one day before Deepavali as Naraka Chaturdashi. The other is the Govardhan Puja. This is celebrated one day after Deepavali. This day holds the significance of Krishna defeating Indra.
Celebrations and Rituals
Celebrations and ritual for the festival begins days and weeks in advance. Every household indulges in a list of activities that marks the occasion. Cleaning of the house and office forms the priority. It is believed that the house should be neat and clean for the Goddess of wealth Laxmi, to give her blessings. As such, one week before the festivity, the house is cleaned and kept tidy. Rangoli' motifs are made on the entrance, to welcome Goddess Lakshmi. Celebrations last for five days. On day one, which is known as Dhanteras, people indulge in lighting lamps and candles. It is considered auspicious to buy gold and silver on this day. Many people opt for buying new utensils on this day.On the second day of Diwali, people illuminate their homes with diyas and burst crackers, thus setting the mood for the oncoming of the festival. The third day is the main day wherein people wear new clothes and indulge in ceremonious activities. The whole house is illuminated with 'diyas' and candles. Fireworks and crackers take a major part on this day celebrations. Later the next day, 'Govardhan-Puja' or 'Annakoot' is practiced. The deities are bathed with milk and adorned with precious clothes and ornaments. The fifth day is the last day of the festival and is called ' Bhai Duj '. On this day, sisters invite their brothers and their family to their homes and treat them with delicacies. In turn, brothers offer them with gifts and sweets.
Deepavali, according to the Indian calendar is celebrated on the new moon night that falls begins in late Ashvin and ends in early Kartika. According to the western calendar, this falls between mid-October and mid-November. It is celebrated in every part of the country. Even those who are not from the same belief system, enjoy the festivity around. Every home in the country shines with the glow of the dazzling lights and candles that are lit to welcome Goddess Lakshmi on Diwali.
Deepavali is the most important Hindu festival. Explore detailed information about this festival.
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