What is Diwali? Why Is It Celebrated?
Diwali is a five day Hindu festival, and it is one of the most important events in the Hindu religious calendar. However, Hindus are not the only religious people to celebrate Diwali. Jains, some Buddhists and Sikhs also celebrate this festival, or a similar festival.
It is known as the ‘festival of lights’ and celebrated annually. It is also called ‘The Festival Of Lights’. This is because lights and candles are a huge part of Diwali celebrations.
Lights are placed on top of houses, on water, along streets and everywhere that you might imagine. To enhance the effect, Diwali takes place during the darkest new moon of the year.
Diwali is characterized by the cleaning and decoration of homes, spending time with loved ones, huge displays of fireworks, and the exchange of gifts. It is a time of thanksgiving and merry-making.
Another name for Diwali is Deepavali, and so it is not uncommon to hear the festival referred to by this alternative name. The word Deepa means light, and so again, this is a reference to the fact that Diwali is a festival that is all about lights.
Why is Diwali celebrated?
There are numerous reasons that can be given for the celebration of Diwali. Some of them are strictly religious, whilst some of them are more cultural. The main reasons for celebrating this unique and beautiful festival are detailed below.
- Celebrating spiritual and moral values: Diwali is also a festival that has a profound and abstract meaning. One reason for people celebrating Diwali is because they agree with these spiritual ideas and values. This festival is all about recognizing that good will triumph of:
- light over the darkness,
- good over bad,
- inner light enligtenment) over the darkness (ignorance) of the spirit,
- courage over cowardice,
- justice over injustice,
- right over wrong, and
- knowledge and wisdom over ignorance.
- To invite the goddess Lakshmi into homes: Diwali is also celebrated by the lighting of lamps to help Lakshmi, the wealth goddess, find her way into people’s homes.
- To honor Lord Rama: Diwali is marked to honor Lord Rama’s return to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile having defeated Ravana.
- Other Religious stories: Some Hindus link Diwali to the story of Yama and Nachiketa. This story describes the way in which knowledge will triumph over ignorance, right over wrong and spiritual wealth over material wealth.
- Harvest customs: In many countries throughout the world, Diwali coincides with what is traditionally the time of the harvest. Diwali thus has long been a kind of harvest festival, too, and a way of celebrating the plenty of nature and the hard work of the harvesters.
- Personal rejuvenation: Many people in India celebrate Diwali by cleaning out their offices and homes, putting on new clothes and generally starting anew with their projects. It is great to have a festival such as this one in the year where we can give ourselves an opportunity to start again, rejuvenate our relationships and put past mistakes behind us. Many people appreciate the psychological boost that going through the rituals of Diwali gives to them.
Conclusion: It is clear that the lights that are celebrated in Diwali are not just physical lights – they are also spiritual ones. Diwali – or Deepavali – is a time when we celebrate all of those things that light up our lives: knowledge, love, kindness, forgiveness and all things good. The way in which the lamps, candles and lanterns in Diwali celebrations conquer the darkness of the new moon is a metaphor for how all of these good things conquer the darkness of ignorance, materialism, bearing grudges and hate. Diwali has important lessons for us all to learn.