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Happy Diwali | The History of the Festival of Lights

Happy Diwali | The History of the Festival of Lights

Diwali, also spelled Divali, one of the major religious festivals in HinduismJainism, and Sikhism, which lasts for five days from the 13th day of the dark half of the lunar month (Ashvina) to the second day of the light half of the lunar month (Karttika). 

The name is derived from the Sanskrit term dipavali which means 'row of lights.' The festival symbolises the victory of light over darkness. 

 

Diwali traditions can vary depending on region and religion. Among Hindus the most widespread custom is the lighting of diyas (small earthenware lamps filled with oil) on the night of the new moon to invite the presence of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. In Bengal the goddess Kali is worshipped. In North India the festival also celebrates the royal homecoming of Rama to the city of Ayodhya after defeating Ravana, the 10-headed king of the demons. In South India the festival marks Krishna’s defeat of the demon Narakasura. Some celebrate Diwali to commemorate the marriage of Lakshmi and Vishnu, while others observe it as the birthday of Lakshmi. 

 

During the festival, diyas are lit and placed in rows along the walls and entrances of temples and houses. They are also set to float on rivers and streams. Homes are decorated, and floors inside and out are covered with rangoli (a traditional Indian art form), consisting of beautifully elaborate designs made of coloured rice, sand, or flower petals. The doors and windows of houses are kept open in the hope that Lakshmi will find her way inside and bless those in the home with wealth and success. Fireworks are also a common celebration on the 3rd day of Diwali, as well as visiting temples as this is considered the main day of the festival. 

 

Sikhs particularly celebrate the release from prison of the sixth guru Hargobind Singh in 1619. But Sikhs celebrated the festival before this date. In fact, the foundation stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar, the most holy place in the Sikh world, was laid on Diwali in 1577. The founder of Jainism is Lord Mahavira. During Diwali, Jains celebrate the moment he reached a state called Moksha (nirvana, or eternal bliss).

 

Wishing you a Diwali that brings happiness prosperity and joy to you and all your family.

 

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