The Hindu Festival of Lights
by Umesh Gupta,
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(short form of Deepawali) or deepawali is also known as the festival
of lights. Deep means light and awali meaning a row. It is celebrated
each year on the darkest moon night in the Indian month of Kartika.
It usually falls between late October and mid November. Since
it is celebrated according to the lunar calendar, it does not
fall on the same date each year.
can be equated with the Christmas of the west in that there are
lights, sweets and the exchange of gifts and food. The Festival
of Lights commemorates the day Lord Rama, whom Hindus worship
as God incarnate, returned to his kingdom after a 14-year period
of exile. Of all Indian festivals, DIWALI is the loveliest. It
is an occasion of great excitement, splendor and rejoicing for
everyone across India. Dozens of sweets are prepared in every
home and some are exchanged with neighbors and friends. In Hindu
custom light signifies goodness. During this festival, oil lamps
are burned throughout the night. Every home is filled with twinkling
oil lamps and decorative lights. Every city, town and hamlet is
turned into a fairyland with flickering lamps and electric lights
illuminating every home and public building. Typical of many Indian
festivals, it includes preparation of traditional sweets, shopping
for new clothes, as well as the cleaning and decoration of homes.
Firework displays are common throughout the country.
symbolizes unity in diversity as different regions of the country
celebrate it in their own special way. In south India, Diwali
is dedicated to God Krishna killing Narakasura. In eastern India
the festival is dedicated to Kali, the goddess of strength who
is worshiped to honor her destroying of Bakasura. DIWALI in northern
India is dedicated to the worship of Lord Rama for destroying
the evil king Ravana. This means that in India everyone no matter
what tradition celebrates this festival. In each tradition the
theme behind the festival is the same - good conquering the evil.
DIWALI symbolizes the victory of the righteousness and the lifting
of spiritual darkness. From darkness we enter into light and light
empowers us to do good deeds and bring us closer to divinity.
marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Vikrama calender
(Hindu Indian Calender). Old accounts are settled and new books
are opened. All the business people start new business calendars
and celebrate their new year. On this day, Laxmi (Goddess of wealth)
Puja (worship) is most common in the northern and many other parts
of India. They worship the goddess Laxmi to bless their new account
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