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Diwali-The festival of lights

In India, preparations have already begun for the most awaited and most important festival-Diwali. The Diwali in 2018 starts from 5th November and will continue for 5 days until 9th November.
Diwali is not only a festival of lights but also a festival of victory of good over evil, happiness, togetherness and so it is celebrated with great enthusiasm, pomp and glory. There are a number of mythological stories linked with this festival but the most important of all the stories is that of Lord Ram and Goddess Sita.
Lord Ram, Lakshman and Goddess Sita went in exile for 14 long years, Sita was abducted by the devil Ravan, Ram and Lakshman rescued Sita with the help of Hanuman. On the day on which Lord Ram returned to Ayodhya with Goddess Sita after 14 long years, people of Ayodhya were happy to receive their king and so they lit plenty of divas to welcome their king. From that day onward, diwali began to be celebrated in India.
The most unique feature of Diwali is that it is not only celebrated by Hindus but by all religions and castes and in all parts of India and in this way it is festival of oneness and togetherness.
‘Dhanteras’ marks the beginning of Diwali. Dhan means wealth and teras denotes 13th day. Dhanteras falls on the 13th day of the Krushna paksh (dark fortnight) in the Marathi month named Karthik. On this day, people decorate the houses with small diyas (lamps made out of mud), draw colorful rangolis in front of houses, put up lanterns, perform Puja (prayer) by worshipping food-grains along with wealth.

Dhanteras is followed by ‘Narak Chaturdashi’. Lord Krishna defeated a demon called ‘Narakasur’ and freed the people from his atrocities and cruelty and so this day of diwali is regarded as victory of good over evil. On this day, there is a custom to get up early in the morning before dawn and have a bath before sunrise.

Next comes ‘Laxmi pujan’, the most important day of diwali. On this day, it is assumed that Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth enters the houses, shops and so she is welcomed with colourful rangolis, diyas and fire crackers. People perform Puja of Goddess Laxmi by offering flowers and sweets. The businessmen and shopkeepers perform ‘Laxmi-pujan’ in their offices and shops. All this is to please the Goddess of wealth so that she blesses all with wealth and prosperity.

The fourth day of diwali is ‘Balipratipada’, also known as ‘Padwa’. Padwa is said to be the beginning of a new accounting year for the businessmen and shopkeepers. So on this day, the shopkeepers perform puja of their newly bought accounting books.

‘Bhaubeej’ is the last day of diwali. This day emphasizes the importance of brother-sister relationship and to strengthens the bond of love and affection between them. On this day, sisters invite their brothers to their house, prepare a special meal for them and in return, brothers give gifts to their sisters and wish for their welfare.

Thus, the five days of diwali are full of enthusiasm and happiness. We all are eagerly awaiting for this year’s diwali !

ICOS India