Diwali is a Hindu festival that is celebrated in many different parts of India, as well as other countries throughout the Indian subcontinent and the world. It is a spiritual festival that is used to not only offer prayers to Lakshmi – the goddess of prosperity – but also to ritually observe the idea of knowledge over ignorance and good over evil. The ‘Festival Of Lights’, as it is sometimes known, is one of the most joyous occasions for Hindus and is also one of the biggest shopping seasons of the year in India as participants buy gifts for themselves, as well as for their friends and families.
No one really knows how old this festival is, but there are mentions of it in many different first millennium texts and in Sanskrit texts such as the Skanda Purana. This importance of this festival can be equated with the importance of Hanukkah to the Jewish people. It is celebrated in either October or November each year, and is believed to have originated to celebrate the last harvest before winter; eventually evolving into the important spiritual and commercial holiday that it is today.
Customs And Celebrations
Traditionally, Diwali is celebrated over the course of five days. On the first day, many housewives spend the day cleaning their dwellings from top to bottom and then running out to purchase kitchen items or items crafted from gold.
On the second day, homes are often decorated with clay lamps called diyas and their floors adorned in intricate patterns using colored sand.
The third day is marked by a Lakshmi puja, or prayer to Lakshimi, which is then followed by a feast where many different types of foods are consumed. Afterwards, there is often a firework celebration.
On the fourth day, family and friends gather to give each other their best wishes for the season and to exchange gifts.
The final day is when brothers visit their married sisters where they are greeted with a joyous welcome and served a hearty feast.
Diwali is not only an important time for Hindus to get together and offer the gifts that friends and family have to offer, but it is also a significant spiritual festival where the glorious inner spirit triumphing over the darkness of ignorance is celebrated.