What's Diwali, the Festival of Lights, All About?
Each year, in October or November, the festival of lights or 'Diwali' is held over a five day period to mark the beginning of the new year according to the Vikrama calendar. Although it is a major festivity in Hinduism, Diwali is celebrated by Jains and also Sikhs around the world today. The word diwali comes from the sanskrit Deepavali which translates to 'row of lights'.
Diwali began as a harvest festival in ancient India and is now celebrated on the 15th day of the Hindu month of Kartik. There are many myths and legends surrounding the festival and different deities and gods and goddesses are worshiped and celebrated. As Diwali is held according to the moon phase, the dates will change each year however the days of the festival are celebrated in specific ways.
Day 1 marks the vanquishing of the demon Naraka by Lord Krishna.
Day 2 marks the worship of Lakshmi who fulfills wishes of her devotees and also the banishing of Bali by Lord Vishnu, who is said to be allowed to return each year to light the lamps.
Day 3 is said to be the time when Bali returns to earth
Day 4 is when family gathers, and celebrations are enjoyed
There are many ways in which the people will mark the celebrations of Diwali. Many lights and oil lamps are lit on the streets on day one, in houses and lawns, in shops and floated on rivers and along streams. The light is said to invite the presence of Lakshmi the Goddess of wealth into peoples homes and lives. Gambling is also encouraged as a way to bring luck into the new year. The light also signifies the victory of good over evil, light over dark, dispelling ignorance and replacing it with love. On the fourth day in particular people visit their families, have big feasts, exchange gifts, cleaning and decorating of their homes and set off fireworks displays.
As Diwali is a new year celebration, traditional new years eve goals and resolutions are set and it becomes a time to reflect on life and get ready to make changes for the new year approaching. It is a time to appreciate sunrises, forgive others, pray for prosperity and welcome inner spiritual work.
This is definitely a beautiful festival to witness and it is on my bucket list!