India is a land of festivals and fairs. There is not a month in which one festival or the other is not celebrated. Each community living in this vast sub-continent has its festivals. If today we are celebrating a Hindu festival, tomorrow we celebrate a Muslim, a Sikh or a Christian festival. ‘Diwali’ of the Hindus, ‘Id’ of the Muslims, ‘Guru Nanak’s Birthday of the Sikhs and ‘Christmas’ of the Christians are some of the most important festivals. Diwali or Deepavali is one of the most important festivals of the Hindus. It is celebrated in the month of ‘Kartite, i.e., October or November. It marks the beginning of the winter season.
Diwali which literally means ‘the rows of lamps’ is a festival of sweets, lights and fire-works. It keeps alive the memory of Lord Rama, the finest specimen of manhood the world has produced. People whitewash their houses. There is dusting, cleaning and washing in every home. Sweet-sellers decorate their shops with sweets of all types and tastes. The house-holders decorate their houses with beautiful pictures. Everyone, young and old, looks happy and gay. At night-fall lamps are lighted and the whole town presents a picturesque sight. Children play with crackers. There is bustle and gaiety everywhere.
There is a great rush in the bazaars. The sweet-shops are full of customers. Potters display their toys and do brisk business. There is a great demand for crackers and candles. Some shops are Rightly illuminated. The temples too are brightly lit with electric bulbs so as to look attractive. There are long queues at bus-stops of people who are out to enjoy the sight of the illuminations on this auspicious occasion. This year Connaught Place, the most fashionable market of Delhi, was illuminated on this festive occasion.
In the house the whole family assembles in a specially decorated place for Lakshmi Puja. Prayers are offered for health, wealth and prosperity. Sweets are distributed among those present. Lamps are kept burning the whole night. It is believed that the Goddess of wealth will enter well-lit houses.
Diwali is observed as a gala-day by all. Traders close their old accounts and begin new account books. People also send greetings wishing a happy and prosperous Diwali to their friends and relatives. Diwali gifts are exchanged. The whole city wears a festive look.