Festival of Lights – Diwali

The festival of lights, Diwali, is arguably India’s biggest religious celebration, when homes, institutions and entire neighbourhoods are decorated with candles, earthen lamps and fairy lights on this auspicious moonless night. In urban India, Diwali has come to be associated with weeks of card parties that culminate in a grand evening of firecrackers, on the main day of the festival. A homogeneous culture has set in with the modern youth that sees the festival as a time for exuberance and conspicuous consumption.

A five-day festival, Diwali is celebrated as the homecoming of Lord Rama with Sita and Laxmana after a long exile of 14 years. Translated literally from Sanskrit, Diwali means a row of lights; diyas were first lit by the people of Ayodhya to welcome their King, Rama, after defeating Ravana. Some people in India also believe it to be the celebration of the marriage of Lord Vishnu and Lakshmi.

In most of the regions, Lord Ganesha, who is the god of wisdom and auspiciousness is worshiped on the day of Diwali. Diwali marks the anniversary of Nirvana or liberation of Mahavira’s soul in Jainism. In West Bengal, Diwali is celebrated to worship goddess Kali, who is the goddess of Shakti, means power and energy.

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