Celebrated all over India with equal fervor, Diwali or Dipawali is the ‘Festival of Lights’. Comparable to Christmas Celebration in the West, people light lamps, organize feasts, and illuminate their homes on Diwali. The marketplaces lure buyers with brightly lit lights, glitter, and fantastic festival discounts. Despite the commercial celebrations and firecrackers, Diwali is quite traditional and have a deep-rooted religious and social significance. It commemorates the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after killing the demon king Ravana as well annihilation of other powerful and vicious demon Narkasura by Lord Krishna in North India. Diwali is also celebrated as the festival of Wealth and Prosperity in Gujarat and northwestern India. People here worship Goddess Lakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of Wealth, on this day.
Ganesh, the Lord of Blessings, shares the altar with Lakshmi in North India. Traditionally, businessmen begin their new financial year on this day in the hope of being blessed by Goddess Lakshmi in all their future ventures. In Karnataka, Diwali commemorates the day when Lord Vishnu apprehended the rising power of charitable demon king Bali, in the form of a Brahmin child known as Vamana. In short, Diwali symbolizes the victory of lightness over darkness and good over evil. Celebrated in October or November (in the month of Karthik according to the Hindu Calendar), Diwali is a five-day long festival. The main day of the festival falls on Amavasya or No Moon Day. Sweetened and thickened cow’s milk comprises chief offering to Gods on this day. Indians decorate their homes with thousands of lamps lit in a row. These day rows of bulbs and flashing lights in creative patterns and designs usually serve the purpose. However, clay lamps are still lit for prayers and Aartis.
Fireworks and crackers are quite popular among children but increasing awareness about pollution they create has led to their limited use these days. Similarly, adults these days shun the traditional rituals of gambling. However, new clothes, gifts exchange, sweets and festivities on Dipawali have not lost their charm yet. People of West Bengal and Orissa perform Kali Puja on this day to seek blessings from the Mother Goddess. Jain Community celebrates Diwali as a New Year’s Day as Lord Mahavira attained Nirvana on this day while Sikhs celebrate it to mark the return of the sixth Guru to Amritsar from the clutches of Mughal Emperor Jehangir. Diwali is celebrated all over India with equal zeal and fervor and is one of the few festivals that bind India together.