The word Diwali is originated from the Sanskrit word Deepavali, ‘Deep’ means ‘light’ and ‘avali’ means ‘row’. Hence, together this word means the ‘row of lights’. A lot of legendary stories are associated with the celebration of the festival of lights. Amongst them, the most famous legend is about Lord Rama-the prince of Ayodhya, who along with his wife Goddess Sita was sent to the jungle as per the instructions of King Dashratha, Lord Rama’s father. While this happened, the Ravana, King of Lanka,kidnapped Goddess Sita. In order to release his wife, Lord Rama attacked Ravana, which was followed by a war between them. It was a fierce battle in which Rama defeated Ravana and released Goddess Sita from Ravana’s custody. Thus, to honour the return of Lord Rama and Goddess Sita after fourteen years of exile, the festival of Diwali is celebrated with full enthusiasm. On this day, the entire city of Ayodhya was illuminated by lighting small diyas as a welcoming gesture of Lord Rama and Goddess Sita to their kingdom. Diwali is celebrated on the auspicious day which falls in the Kartik month of Hindu calendar, on new moon or ‘Amavasyaa’. The Goddess of wealth and prosperity-Goddess Laxmi was incarnated on this auspicious day. Since then, people worship Goddess Laxmi by performing the Laxmi Puja. The festival of lights holds significance not only for the Hindus but also for the Sikh community. It primarily celebrates the release of their sixth Guru, Sri Guru Hargobind Singh ji and 52 other princes from a prison in the year 1619. This day is popularly known amongst the Sikh community as the ‘Bandi Chhor Diwas’ (imprisoner’s release day). Also,on this day, the foundation stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar, the holiest place for the Sikh across the globe, was laid on Diwali in 1577. Hence, this day holds importance for the entire Sikh population.
This day is also very significant for the people belonging to the Jain community. Jains celebrate the attainment of Moksha (Nirvana or eternal bliss) by the founder of Jainism-Lord Mahavira.
This year, Diwali will be celebrated on 3rd November (Sunday) across all parts of the country.
Due to the historical significance of this day, it is considered as an auspicious occasion to start a new business. Also, people offer prayers to the Almighty for a successful year ahead. Before the arrival of this auspicious occasion, people clean their homes, shops and other workplaces. On the festival day, these places are decorated with diyas, lights, embellishments etc. Also, people leave the windows and doors of their houses open so that Goddess Lakshmi can come in and bless them with wealth and prosperity. Besides this, bursting fire crackers is an inevitable part of the celebrations. Apart from these celebrations, some people opt for gambling on this occasion. This act is related to the legend that Goddess Parvati played dice with her husband on this day and it was said that anyone who gambled on Diwali night would do well.
In India, oil lamps are often floated across the river Ganges – it is regarded as a good sign, if the lamp manages to get all the way across.
How to celebrate Diwali at home?
- Inculcate the festive spirit in your children & encourage them to wear bright and colourful ethnic clothes during the festival.
- Narrate popular mythological stories behind Diwali celebrations and its significance in different religions.
- Involve your children in brightening up your home by decorating it with lights, earthen lamps and candles.
- Teach your children the hymns and aarti to be performed during the puja ceremony.
- Prepare a variety of recipes and let your child enjoy the tastes of the traditional dishes.
- Opt for eco-friendly ways of celebrating the festival like: use organic incense sticks to light while performing puja.
- Motivate your children to make rangolis.
- Together with the children, take a pledge not to burst crackers.
So, use these tips and celebrate the festival of lights with your near and dear ones.