Diwali is one of the most important and popular festivals in India. It is celebrated by millions of Hindus across the country and around the world. But what is the meaning and significance of this festival of lights?

Diwali, or Deepavali, literally means "row of lights" in Sanskrit. It is a time to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil. It is also a time to express gratitude for the blessings of life, prosperity, and happiness.

The origins of Diwali are rooted in various legends and stories from Hindu mythology. One of the most common ones is the return of Lord Rama, an incarnation of the god Vishnu, to his kingdom Ayodhya after 14 years of exile and defeating the demon king Ravana. To welcome him back, the people of Ayodhya lit up the city with diyas (small oil lamps) and fireworks. Diwali symbolizes Rama's victory over Ravana and his restoration of dharma (righteousness) in the world.

Another legend associated with Diwali is the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. According to Hindu scriptures, Lakshmi was born from the churning of the ocean of milk by the gods and demons. She chose Vishnu as her consort and accompanied him in his various incarnations. On Diwali night, Lakshmi visits every home and blesses those who keep their houses clean and well-lit. Hindus perform puja (ritual worship) to Lakshmi and offer her sweets, flowers, and coins. They also light lamps and candles to invite her into their homes.

Diwali is not only celebrated by Hindus, but also by Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists. For Jains, Diwali marks the anniversary of the nirvana (liberation) of Mahavira, the 24th and last Tirthankara (spiritual teacher) of Jainism. For Sikhs, Diwali commemorates the release of Guru Hargobind, the sixth Guru of Sikhism, from prison by the Mughal emperor Jahangir in 1619. For Buddhists, especially Newar Buddhists in Nepal, Diwali is a time to honor Lakshmi as well as Dipankara Buddha, one of the Buddhas of the past.

Diwali is celebrated for five days, each with its own significance and rituals. The first day is Dhanteras, when people buy gold, silver, or new utensils as a sign of good luck. The second day is Naraka Chaturdashi or Chhoti Diwali, when people take an early morning bath and apply oil on their bodies to cleanse themselves from evil. The third day is Amavasya or Diwali proper, when people perform Lakshmi puja, exchange gifts and sweets with friends and family, and light up their homes with lamps and candles. The fourth day is Kartika Shuddha Padyami or Govardhan Puja, when people worship Krishna for saving them from a torrential rain caused by Indra, the king of gods. The fifth day is Yama Dwitiya or Bhai Dooj, when sisters apply tilak (a mark on the forehead) on their brothers and pray for their long life and well-being.

Diwali is a festival that brings joy, hope, and harmony to everyone. It is a time to celebrate the values of love, compassion, generosity, and forgiveness. It is a time to reflect on our inner light and spread it to others. It is a time to say: Happy Diwali.

No comments

Powered by Blogger.