Diwali is celebrated for 5 days according to the lunar Hindu calendar. It begins in late Ashwin (between September & October) and ends in early Kartika.There are many versions of the origin of this festival; the most popular is of Lord Rama 's return coronation to Ayodhya after his 14 year exile. Sweets and gifts are exchanged between families and friends.Diwali is most celebrated brightest and noisiest Indian festival.
History and Origin
Dusshera the festival of victory of good over evil has its root in the Ramayana which states that Lord Rama along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman took off on an exile for a period of 14 years. During this exile period they underwent a lot of difficulties for it was the time when Sita was abducted by Ravana.So as a step towards this Rama along with Lakshman, Hanuman and an army of monkeys fought a battle against Ravana.
This battle went on for a period of ten days in which finally Ravana was killed and defeated. On his return the delighted people of Ayodhya had illuminated the complete kingdom with oil lamps or deepam.History also says that Naraka, the son of Bhudevi, had a blessing from Lord Brahma according to which he could face death only at the hands of mother Bhudevi.Soon he started creating trouble to the people because of which they went and complained to Lord Krishna. So Lord Krishna asked his wife Satyabhama, the reincarnation of Bhudevi, to be his charioteer in the battle with Naraka. When due to a bow hit by Naraka, Krishna got fainted; Satyabhama got angry and hit back Naraka with a bow. Thus this ended the story of Naraka and his evil deeds.
There is a close legend associated with Diwali and Goddess Lakshmi.It was on this full moon day of the Karthik month Goddess Lakshmi was personified and got incarnated.
Vishnu Rescued Lakshmi
There is a legend which says that Bali the king of demons took the whole world under his control and was more into evil deeds. He also captivated Goddess Laxmi and put her in the prison. Not able to bear with his activities the deities requested lord Vishnu to take measures to control Bali. So Vishnu in the form of Vaman released Laxmi from his captivity and thus the people expressed their happiness by lighting their houses with burning lamps.
Krishna Killed Narakaasur
This is also celebrated for the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon king Narakaasur.Lord Krishna released so many people from his captivity. Thus the freedom of these people was celebrated as Diwali by lighting of lamps.
The Return of the Pandavas
There are legends which states that it was on 'Kartik Amavashya' the Pandavas came back from their 12 years of expel as a result of their defeat in the dice game with the Kauravas.
Coronation of Vikramaditya
The solemnity of crowning a sovereign to the Hindu King Vikramaditya happened on the day of Diwali.
Customs and Tradition
During Diwali the houses are all cleaned and decorated and also a bit of renovation is done.Diwali is welcomed by Rangoli for it is believed that on Diwali Goddess Lakshmi visits our house. People also try to invest money in gold or silver for purchase on this day is believed to bring more of the same. Special puja's are conducted in the evenings like Lakshmi-Puja to mainly ward off the evil spirits. The puja is highlighted by singing of devotional songs. After the completion of puja sweets and prasadha are exchanged between friends and families. In some parts of the country cows are also worshipped for it is believed that cow is an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi.
In most part of South India there is a custom of having a oil bath before sunrise on the day of Diwali.Another tradition followed in most places of North India is the Govardhan pooja.During this puja the deities of the temple in Mathura and Nathadwara are given bath with milk. After the bath they are beautifully dressed up with shinning silk clothes and are also decked up with precious stones like diamonds pearls, rubies and other precious stones. Once the rituals and puja is done the deities are offered with a variety of sweets which is commonly knows as "Bhog". Indulgence of gambling is another common custom followed especially in North India.
Celebrations in India
The celebration of Diwali is marked by number of events like rangoli, lamps and fireworks. On the eve of Diwali people generally get up before sunrise and have their bath and were new clothes. There are special pooja ceremonies conducted both at home and in temples. Twinkling of earthern lamps and candles is a promise to see in each every house across the country. The whole day children and elders fire lots of firecrackers and fireworks which mainly emphasis the victory of good over evil. The day is also marked by exchange of sweets and gifts between friends and family members.
Celebrations across the world
Diwali is also celebrated in other countries like Guyana, Fiji, Malaysia, Nepal, Mauritius, Myanmar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Trinidad & Tobago, Britain, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Africa, Australia and the US among the Hindus across the world. Where ever the celebration is, lamps and diyas are seen. It is a very good occasion for Indians living in other countries to have get together and follow our tradition of celebrating the festival. The celebration of the festival includes, distribution of sweets, illuminating the inside and outside of the house, exchange of greetings, cleaning of houses and wearing of new clothes. People also visit temples. In some parts of the country people are not let to fire fireworks mainly crackers.
Diwali one of the most popular festivals of the country celebrated by all irrespective of caste and money. Some of the famous Diwali recipes include Shahi Paneer, Suji Ladoo, Chana Dal Dhokla, Kaju Burfi, Phirni, Rasgulla and Jalebi.In South India murukku made of rice flour is also very common.
The celebration is complete only with the exchange of Diwali gifts and presents and the Diwali greetings among the loved ones in order to share and increase the happiness associated with Diwali.Some of the common Diwali gifts include Diwali Books, Diwali Apparels and Accessories, Diwali Candles and Candleholders, Diwali Chocolates, Diwali Paintings, Diwali Dry fruits, Diwali Puja Gifts and ofcourse Diwali crackers.