All Over India Festivals
Diwali


India is a melting pot of races and religions. Every religion has its own unique style of celebration. Diwali (also known as Deepawali), or ‘the festival of lights’ is perhaps the most popular of all Hindu festivals. Like most festivals, Diwali has its mythological and historical bedrock. Legend has it that Hanuman (the legendary monkey-god and prime devotee of Lord Rama, the god-hero of the great Hindu epic, the Ramayana) delivered the much awaited message of Rama’s return to Ayodhya (Rama’s kingdom) after 14 years in exile. The entire kingdom rejoiced upon hearing the news and Ayodhya was washed, cleansed and dressed up with lights and shimmering earthen lamps to welcome the Lord himself. Diwali is celebrated even today to commemorate this event.

Hindus all over the world celebrate Deepawali with great enthusiasm. This is a major Hindu festival honouring Mother Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth. Diwali is a holy tradition, not to be put in the shade. It symbolizes the victory of light over darkness; darkness refers to ignorance and light refers to knowledge. Celebrated joyously all over India, it is a festival of wealth and prosperity.
Deepavali is celebrated 20 days after Dussehra, on Amavasya - the 15th day of the dark fortnight of the Hindu month of Ashwin (Aasho) in (Oct/ Nov) every year.


The Mythological Story

The mythological story of Sagar Manthan or ‘churning the ocean’ may help us understand why Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, is worshipped during Diwali. Legend has it that once all the devtas, or demigods were under a curse that made them weak in body and mind. They were advised by Brahma (Creator in the Hindu Holy Trinity of Creator-Preserver-Destroyer) to drink amrit, or the elixir of life. But amrit could only be obtained by the churning of the ocean, which, needless to add, was no mean feat. Now the question arose as to how to go about churning the gargantuan ocean. Lord Vishnu (the Hindu Preserver of the Universe) came up with a solution saying that Mount Meru could act as the churning stick, while Vasuki (the mythical serpent) could be used as the coil around Meru. Pleased with the suggestion, the devtas went to the asuras, or demons and sought their help in accomplishing the formidable task. The devtas’ promise to share the amrit with the asuras tricked the latter into consenting to tug Vasuki from one end.

Thus ensued a phenomenal churning that, however, threatened to destroy the three worlds (Heaven, Earth and Hell). The gods simply could not let that happen, so Vishnu appeared in the guise of a giant tortoise or Kurma (Vishnu's second incarnation) and stabilised the churning by acting as a base under Mount Meru. It is said that eventually, spectacular treasures emerged from the great ocean including Laksmi the Goddess of Prosperity and Wealth, Sura the Goddess of Wine, Chandra, or the moon, Apsaras, the celestial nymphs, Kaustabha, the precious gem of Vishnu, Uchchaishravas, the divine horse, Parijata, the wishing coral tree, Kamdhenu, the wish-fulfilling Divine Cow, Airavata, the four-tusked white elephant, Panchajanya, or the conch, Sharanga, the invincible bow, and Dhanvantri, Nimi and Bharadwaj - the physicians and surgeons.

On the night of Diwali, all the shops & offices are decorated with electrical bulbs of various colors. They are filled to capacity in this festive season. People visit their friends and relatives and present them sweets. Many people make "rangoli" inside & outside their house. Rangoli is a pattern which is made on the floor, normally by coloured powder, but in the house it is made with paint.

In the evening the family prays to Laskmi, the goddess of wealth. Then people put diyas (oil lamps) all around the house. About 8.00 pm the fireworks start. This is the time when the whole country is lit up and fireworks continue uptill midnight.

In north India, Deepavali is celebrated as an auspicious occasion of Rama's homecoming from fourteen years of exile and also after defeating Ravana and his coronation as king; In Gujarat, the festival is celebrated to honour goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth; and in Bengal, it is related with goddess Kali. Everywhere it is celebrated with the same spirit and signifies the renewal of life.

Diwali is also celebrated outside India mainly in Britain, U.S.A., Guyana, Fiji, Malaysia, Nepal, Mauritius, Myanmar, Singapore, Srilanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Africa, and Australia among the Hindus world over. Whatever may be the legend behind the festival but people celebrate it with great enthusiasm. In this festive season people exchange sweets, wear new clothes and buy precious items for celebration and enjoyment.

 

 


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