Saturday, January 2, 2010

Diwali - the Festival of Lights

Diwali, also known as Deepavali is one of the most gorgeous festivals of India. This is the festival when the people of India worship Goddess Kali in the temples, welcome Goddess Lakshmi to their decorated homes, offer prayers to Lord Ganesha and celebrate the victory of the good over evil remembering Lord Ram’s glorious triumph over evil Ravan. Diwali festival is one of a kind in India, which is celebrated in different ways and for different reasons in the various parts of India, but whatever the reason, the celebration of Diwali marks the end of darkness and the beginning of a bright new day everywhere.

Diwali means the festival of lights in India, when people light up the darkness with diyas or oil lamps and creative light bulbs. The night sky becomes the playground of colorful fireworks when people spill a dozen sparkling colors on the canvass of the dark sky and the night of Diwali comes alive with the noise of crackers, the chimes of the temple bells and the merry making of the people all around. There are many legends associated with the festival of Diwali and that is why different regions of India have their own special way of celebrating this auspicious occasion.

Diwali of North India begins with Dussehra when the homes, temples, pathways, shops and offices are adorned in thousands of candles and small earthen lamps. In this region, almost every corner of the street stages up the Ramleela, a theatrical representation of the legendary homecoming of prince Ram after defeating the evil enemy Ravan. Homes are decorated to entice Goddess Lakshmi inside and shower her blessings on the family. In South India, Diwali festivities are enjoyed in a somewhat different way. The festival commemorates the seizure of Asura Naraka by Lord Krishna. On this day, homes are cleaned and decorated with rangoli or kolam which are patterns made with red oxide.

A puja called Murukku is held and in the evening the sky is flooded with multicolored glowing fireworks. Diwali in West Bengal has another interesting celebration as the worship of Goddess Kali or Kali Puja coincides with this auspicious occasion. Gusto and enthusiasm flow in from everywhere as people revel in the celebrations by lighting up homes and roads, bursting crackers and worshipping the chief deity of the occasion – Kali. In many rural areas of India, Diwali also marks the celebration of the harvest festival. With the ending of the harvesting period or the Kharif season, fresh crops become available and Hindu farmers celebrate Diwali by expressing their gratitude to Mother Nature.

Diwali or Deepavali which in Sanskrit means ‘a row of lamps’ is a festival of the Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains, all of who come together to celebrate this sacred occasion with loads of joy and lots of fervor. Diwali is a gleeful occasion when the nation comes alive with conviviality with people expressing their joys and greeting each other. With Diwali, comes the day of exchanging gifts, sweets and good wishes and with Diwali comes the day of celebrating the good over the bad. In other words, Diwali is a festival which teaches the value of nobility, brings with it the joy of celebration and fills the hearts with the good hopes of new bright days to come.

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