Diwali, the festival of lights, is one of the major festivals in Hinduism, and is one of the important and widely spread holidays celebrated in India. It is a celebration of lights and for many, it is truly a sensory experience; some families decorate their houses with all sorts of lights and open up to the neighbours, sharing their love and their food. Those celebrating Diwali spend time with family and friends.
They perform religious ceremonies to bring in wealth and prosperity for a new year, cook and eat delicious food, design rangolis, light up their lives by lighting small earthen lamps, candles and sometimes, by lighting fireworks. Diwali is celebrated in honor of the lord Rama who on this day returned from a forest exile. Diwali is actually the middle day in a five-day festival that rings in the Hindu New Year. The word Diwali means an array of lights. It is a festival of lights symbolizing victory of good over evil and the glory of light. Diwali is celebrated as the day that Lord Rama returned to his kingdom after defeating the evil deity, Ravana. Diwali also signifies the Harvest Festival, meaning the growth of various crops takes place during this time which helps feed the people of India.
Diwali is celebrated in five days. The first day is called Dhanteras. On this day, Lord Krishna killed the demon Naraksura, who was a troublemaker to the gods. The second day is called Narak Chatardasi. On this day Lord Krishna destroyed the demon and made the world free from fear. The third day is called Diwali. Lakshmi Puja is performed on this day. All homes are decorated and lit up by diyas and lamps. The fourth day is called the New Year of Bestavarsh. The fifth day is called Bhaiya Duj. It is about brothers and sisters. These are the days in which Diwali is celebrated.
Everyone has the right to celebrate Diwali in their own way. Some people do it by performing pujas, some do it by spending time with their family and loved ones, and some do it by lighting fire crackers. A growing number of scholars and people debate the need and justification of using fire crackers to celebrate Diwali for a number of reasons. One is the amount of money that goes into flames every year in the name of celebrations towards the purchase of firecrackers. Secondly, the firecrackers are a source of pollution, including noise pollution. These are valid and genuine concerns. The money saved can be used for a good cause. It can be contributed to the social or religious community. The true celebration of Diwali is when we light a lamp in the life of some poor orphan or bring some cheer into the heart of a crippled innocent through our kindness and generosity.
Goddess Lakshmi would be truly pleased if we share our wealth and happiness in some meaningful and selfless way, something that sets us apart from the nature of demons who try to use wealth for their own selfish and evil ends. Wealth is truly divine and remains in its purest divine aspect only when it is spent for a good cause that promotes the spiritual well beings. Those who know the goddess well know that she is mighty pleased when her energies are in circulation for a right and just cause. In this modern world, Diwali should be truly celebrated as an auspicious and God sent opportunity to bring cheer and happiness in a world oppressed by the darkness of egoism, greed, vanity and selfishness.