From grand events to small village fairs, Diwali marks the most important date on the calendar of Hindus all over the world. The clay lamps, beautiful decorations, bonfires, designing floors with rangoli, sharing of the sweets, colorful fireworks, mega discounts on shopping spree, Diwali gifts, togetherness by family gatherings, religious fervor and magnificent festivity marks the pricelessness of this festival.
ORIGIN: The festival gets its name from the row (avali in Hindi) of clay lamps (deep in Hindi), which are lit in every household to symbolize the inner enlightenment that which protects us from spiritual darkness. Mythological, people offer prayers to Goddess Lakshmi, who signifies wealth, fortune and prosperity.
AS THE WORLD CELEBRATES IT:
REAGRDLESS OF FAITH: Celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Indians, non-Indians, it is the festival giving positive Endeavour to all and bringing them close to the divine. It is based on religious, harvest, mythological and societal fervors.
FIVE DAYS OF GRAND FESTIVITY :
Day 1 : Dhanteras (9th of November 2015)
The families consider it auspicious, they clean their homes and buy gold or kitchen utensils.
Day 2: Naraka Chaturdashi, also called Chhoti Diwali (10th of November 2015)
People decorate the homes with clay lamps and design patterns on the floors, called rangoli, using colours.
Day 3: Lakshmi Puja, also called Main Diwali (11th of November 2015)
The families gather together and offer prayers to Goddess Lakshmi. The prayers are followed by magnificent feast and fireworks.
Day 4 : Bali Pratipada or Govardhan Puja (12th of November 2015)
It is considered to be the new year for the Hindus. People visit each other and share sweets and festive gifts. The businessmen mark this day as a new financial year.
Day 5: Yama Dwitiya or Bhaiduj (13th of November 2015)
Brothers visit their married sisters to culminate the bond.
MYTHOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE :
There is more than one reason of the festive fervor behind celebrating Diwali. There are many stories which have been picked up from religious scriptures of Hinduism.
1.LORD RAM RETURNED FROM THE EXILE :
Lord Ram from Ayodhya was sent on an exile by his father who ruled Ayodhya. In the quest, his wife Sita was abducted by a demonic ruler Ravana from Lanka. To defeat Ravana and conquer his wife back, Lord Rama worshipped Goddess Lakshmi. After being victorious, Lord Rama returned Ayodhya and was welcomed by lighting the whole city with clay lamps to mark the win of good over evil.
2.GODDESS MAHALAKSHMI WAS BORN :
Goddess Lakshmi had incarnated from the depth of a bottomless ocean. She was subsequently married to Lord Vishnu on the same day and to mark this occasion lamps were lit in a row to illuminate the grand occasion.
3.LORD VISHNU RESCUED LAKSHMI FROM THE PRISON OF KING BALI :
According to the Bhagavad Purana, which is the most sacred Hindu literature, Lord Vishnu tricked King Mahabali to give his kingship and wealth. Diwali marks the overcoming of Lord Vishnu over violent Mahabali.
4.NARAKASURA WAS DEFEATED BY LORD KRISHNA’S WIFE SATHYABHAMA :
Lord Vishnu incarnated as Lord Krishna and killed Narakasura on the day preceding Diwali. He rescued 16,000 women whom the demon Narakasura had imprisoned in his palace. This deliverance is celebrated with much grandeur as Diwali.
5.THE PANDAVAS RETURNED AFTER 12 YEARS OF BANISHMENT :
According to the greatest Hindu epic, Mahabharata, the Pandavas returned to Hastinapur after 12 years of banishment after their defeat in the game of dice. Their return was celebrated by lighting clay lamps as a tradition.
6.HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION TO CORONATION OF KING VIKRAMADITYA :
Following the victory over the Sakas in 56 BC, legendary Indian ruler Vikramaditya was coroneted on Diwali. Vikramaditya was one of the greatest rulers in the world and had an empire from Thailand to Saudi Arabia.
7.DAYANANDA SARASWATI ATTAINED NIRVANA :
Swami Dayananda Saraswati attained nirvana and became Maharshi Dayananda, meaning the great sage, on Diwlai. He was one of the greatest reformers of Hinduism and founded a society of nobles.
8.THE KHARIF CROP HARVEST FESTIVAL :
India is an agro-economic society and has immense significance to rich harvest. Diwali gives new meaning to the celebrations during the time when rice cultivations gives the most fruitful results for all the farmers.
9.NEW YEAR FOR THE HINDUS ALL OVER THE GLOBE :
Hindusim the third largest religion in the world. On Diwali, all the Hindu businessmen commence a new financial year and close the account books of the last year by clearing all the debts.
10.A REMARKABLE DAY FOR THE SIKHS :
The third Sikh Guru, Amar Das institutionalized Diwali as the occasion when the Sikhs could gather to receive his blessings. Additionally, the sixth Sikh guru, Hargobind Ji was released from the imprisonment of Mughal emperor Jahangir on the day of Diwali in 1619. To make Diwali more auspicious, the foundation stone of the Golden Temple was laid in 1577, on the Diwali.