India is a land of festivals and celebrations. Festivals are nothing but expression of one’s own gratitude, joy, appreciation and love, they are the best ways of bringing the society together to take time off and celebrate in unison. It is a way of celebrating nature and its wonderful and abundant bounties. Moreover, due to its vast religious and cultural diversity, top many festivals, festivities and fairs are celebrated regularly every year. The Hindus have a large number of festivals but Holi, Raksha Bandhan, Diwali, Dussehra are their major festivals. The festivals like Holi, Diwali, Moharram, Baisakhi, Christmas, Budh Purnima, Mahavir Jayanti etc. are celebrated by people of all communities, class and religions in India.
Among all the festivals, my favourite festival is of course Diwali. It is celebrated just before the setting in of winter season, at the end of October or many a times in the
beginning of November. According to the Hindu calendar, Diwali is celebrated on the 15th of the month of Kartik- when the weather is pleasant—being neither too hot nor too cold. The festival is celebrated in the joyous memory of Ramchandra’s return to Ayodhya after an exile of 14 years. The people of Ayodhya had lit ‘diyas’ using ghee to express their infinite joy on the return of their beloved Ram. One can imagine the entire city being lit up on a moonless night with strings of ‘deepaks’ and candles. That was the first Diwali to be celebrated. Since then, Diwali is celebrated to commensurate the return of Ram—the ideal man of our civilization. Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth too is worshipped on this day.
Days before the coming of Diwali, preparations begin. The markets get crowded and busy. People come out of their homes to buy things in order to prepare delicacies, new clothes, crackers etc and the shops are decorated to attract the buyers. Women and children get busy in cleaning up the homes, getting them whitewashed or painted and preparing sweets. New clothes are bought or stitched. Children also eagerly wait to light fire-crackers.
Ten days before Diwali, is celebrated the Dussehra. It is celebrated in the memory of Ram’s victory over Lanka and the defeat of the demon Ravana. Huge effigies erected in all the cities with his imposing ten-heads along with the statues of Meghnada, Kumbhakarna etc. Thousands of people flock to see the burning of Ravana’s effigy symbolizing the victory of good over evil. No Matter how strong and powerful evil. No matter how strong and powerful evil may appear to be it has to fall down to its knees when challenged by good. Good always conquers the evil. Nothing can stand in its way. A day before Diwali is celebrated ‘Dhanteras’ when it is considered lucky to buy utensils of silver. The markets are extremely crowded on this day as people buy metals for their homes.
On the day of Diwali, people worship Goddess Lakshmi during the auspicious time called as ‘Mooharat’. Businessmen begin their new financial year by making new ledger books and seeking the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi. After the puja, people dressed in new clothes, come out of their homes, light crackers and wish each other. Houses far and wide light up with diyas, candles and artificial light strings. Children, dressed, light firecrackers and eat sweets. The next day, people go out to wish each other. On this day, gaily people of all religion, caste, creed and culture shed their differences and meet each other and celebrate together. Shops are decorated with festoons and paper buntings. Strings of artificial lights are put up everywhere. Houses sparkle with the light of die diyas. Rangoli is made and new ledger books created.
Gifts and sweets are exchanged among friends and relatives. The day is marked with great rejoicing. The word Diwali is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Deepawali’ which means ‘row of tight”. Hence Diwali is considered as the festival of light. Light is a symbol of knowledge, enlightment and good’s victory over evil that makes Diwali one of die most important and favourite festivals. Amidst all the merriment, mirth and joy, we should not forget the true meaning and essence of Diwali. Perseverance, fortitude and goodness may have to pass through trials and tribulations yet emerging victorious in the end. That is the true message of Diwali and is extremely important for people to remember in these days when evil is rampant and corruption is pervading everywhere.