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Diwali 2022: Facts And Legends Behind The Festival Of Lights

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The onset of winter brings in the joy of the most famous Hindu festival, the festival of lights, Diwali. The festival of lights is celebrated with sweets, and firecrackers, with people dressing in new clothes, exchanging gifts, and happiness spread all over. 

festival of lights
Diwali, the festival of lights is celebrated by lighting Diya

Here are some facts related to this festival of lights:

  1. Diwali is celebrated prominently by Hindus but also among Sikhs and Jains. The festival which falls in the month of Kartika (between mid-October and mid-November), determined by the position of the moon, marks the start of the Hindu New Year.
  2. Diwali derives its name from the Sanskrit word Deepavali, meaning, ‘row of lights. This signifies the lights of oil lamps or diyas. So people decorate their houses, shops, and even workplaces with diyas. 
  3. Diwali is also the festival of prosperity as, on this day, people worship the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, and Lord Ganesha, the God of fortune and light diyas to show her the way to their homes for bringing prosperity. 
Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha are worshipped on Diwali
Diwali is also the festival of prosperity as, on this day, people worship the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, and Lord Ganesha

4. It also signifies good triumphs over evil and there are different legends around the festival. One is related to India’s ancient epic Ramayan, in which Lord Ram along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman had arrived in Ayodhya after defeating the evil king of Lanka, Ravana. In the eastern Indian state of Bengal, the goddess Kali is worshiped, and in Nepal, a country bordering north-east India, Lord Krishna’s victory is celebrated over the evil king Narkasur. 

Lord Ram, Sita and Lakshman
Diwali is associated with the legend of India’s ancient epic Ramayan, in which Lord Ram along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman had arrived in Ayodhya after defeating the evil king of Lanka, Ravana.

5. The festival of Diwali is not a one-day affair. It happens over five days. The five-day Diwali celebrations get underway on Dhanteras. It is believed that investing in new kitchenware and gold jewelry on this day will bring good fortune. A ‘Choti Diwali’ is celebrated just a day before the main Diwali. The next day of Diwali is ‘Govardhan Puja’ or Annakut, which is celebrated by worshiping Govardhan Parvat, by making a miniature of the parvat with cow dung. The fourth day is Bhai Dooj, a festival celebrating a brother-sister relationship. 

Bhai Dooj
Bhai Dooj is a festival celebrating a brother-sister relationship.

Legends behind celebrating Diwali

  1.  The most popular among these are from the ancient Hindu Epic Ramayan. According to the legend, Diwali is the day when Lord Ram came back to Ayodhya defeating Ravan. 
  2. Another popular legend around Diwali is from another ancient Hindu Epic Mahabharat. The five Pandav brothers returned from 14 years of exile with their wife Draupadi on the dark moonless night of Kartika Amavasya. Their beloved subjects celebrated their return by lighting their houses. 
  3. Diwali is also a very auspicious day for Jains, as it symbolizes the nirvana or spiritual awakening of Lord Mahavira, the 24th Jain Tirthankara. Jain scriptures refer to Diwali as Dipalikaya which means light leaving the body.
Lord Mahavir
Diwali symbolizes the spiritual awakening of Lord Mahavira, the 24th Jain Tirthankara.

4. The day of Diwali, a significant Sikh festival, is observed as Bandi Chorh Diwas (Day of Liberation), commemorating the release from captivity of Guru Hargobind Sahib, the sixth guru, and 52 other inmates.

How is Diwali Celebrated?

A week or so before the day of Diwali, people start cleaning, and decorating their houses while also bursting crackers. On the day of Dhanteras, they purchase gold, gold items, and other items related to houses. People prepare sweet dishes like ladoo, Lord Ganesh’s favorite sweets, at their homes and buy them too to give to loved ones along with other gifts. 

Diwali sweets
People exchange sweets on tge festival of Diwali
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