Every year, all of us participate in the pomp and joy that the Festival of Lights has to offer. After all, celebrating Diwali with utmost cheer each autumn is what we've grown up doing, isn't it? For some of us, the best part about the day of Diwali is bursting crackers-rockets, bombs, anars, chakris....the list goes on and on.
For others, it's the sole reason to take that annual trip back home and spend some quality time with family.
The foodies among us look forward to gorging on the huge number of sweets one has access to during Diwali-all the way from scrumptious, eye-catching jalebi and mouth watering gulab jamuns to barfi that melts in your mouth and of course, the heavenly rasgullas...you get the gist of it, don’t you?
Of course, the festivities are endless on this auspicious day and it is indeed a day filled with warmth and delight. Dressing up in new clothes, receiving diwali gifts, giving gifts to near and dear ones, visiting one's neighbours, exchanging sweets with them and ending the day gazing at beautiful fireworks in the sky- isn't every bit of this festival amazing in itself?
Now, sure, you've spent years and years celebrating the festival, wishing your Facebook feed a Happy Diwali, forwarding those messages to your WhatsApp list...heck, you've probably even written an essay or two about the festival in school! But do you remember all of it? Why we celebrate the festival? The multiple reasons behind why each state of your country takes part in the revelry? The reason why certain places in India celebrate Diwali later than the rest of the country?
Well, worry no more. We're here to get all that info about your favourite festival back in your head!
So, the main theme that runs along why Diwali is celebrated by most religions is the victory of goodness over evil. 'Diwali' or 'Deepavali' means 'row of lights'. In north India, the day commemorates the return of Lord Ram, his wife Sita and his brother Lakshman to Ayodhya after having lived in exile for 14 years. The entire kingdom of Ayodhya was lit up with diyas for their welcome. And so, it became a tradition!
In the South, people believe that Lord Krishna killed the evil demon, Naraksura, on this day and rendered his thousands of prisoners free.
In the West, it is believed that this auspicious day is celebrated because Lord Vishnu has defeated the demon king, Bali, and had sent him away to rule the underground realm (called 'Lok Patal' in Hindu culture) and thus helped Indra regain his rule over the heavens. People also believe that this festival celebrates the marriage of Vishnu and Lakshmi.
And finally, in West Bengal, the Goddess Kali is worshipped. Being the dark goddess for strength and power, she is offered prayers by people for well-being and prosperity.
Although most of the country celebrates Diwali with a gap of a day or two, a few districts in Himachal Pradesh, such as Shillai and Chopal celebrate Diwali a whole month after it has been celebrated by the rest of the country. And thus, it is called 'Budhi Diwali', meaning old Diwali! The reason for this, as they say, is that after Ram returned, it took time for the news of his re-arrival to spread to all parts of the kingdom. Especially for the mountains in the north, the news took an especially long time to reach. Although they also took part in the celebrations immediately on receiving the news, it still happened a month later than the rest of the kingdom.
On the day of Diwali, people offer their prayers to Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. They also pray to the deity Ganesha, who is the remover of obstacles. It is said that Goddess Lakshmi was churned out of the sea on Diwali and visits homes every year, with the cleanest ones first. This is also why people ensure that their homes are spotlessly clean every Diwali!
Stay safe this Diwali and brighten up the faces of your loved ones along with the most delicious, mouth watering sweets and the coolest Diwali Gifts!