Diwali is one of the important festivals for Hindus which is celebrated for four days. Read about the significance of Diwali and various mythological stories behind the celebration of Diwali festival.
Diwali or Deepawali is the brightest of all Indian festivals. Also known as the festival of lights, it comes from “Deep” or light, and “Awali” or rows of light. In different regions of India, Diwali is celebrated in the most joyous vigour, and it is a four day festival. People love to decorate their houses on this occasion and care is taken that every corner of the house is illuminated with lamps or “Diyas”.
Tradition separates the mode of celebration in different parts of the country, but each Hindu makes sure that the essence of joy and prosperity that this festival stands for is enhanced through traditional Pujas and rituals on Diwali.
Significance of Diwali
The significance of Diwali can be traced back to the ancient days, where we find that this was the perhaps the most observed of the harvest celebrations. There are numerous legends that indicate the significance of Diwali in Hindu religion. Some of them are stated below:
- Many observe the occasion as the marriage of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Laxmi.
- The elephant-headed god, Lord Ganesha is also worshipped on this special and the harbinger of prosperity and wisdom.
- In Bengal, Diwali is observed with the worship of Goddess Kali, the destroyer of evil and dark strength along with Goddess Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth.
- The Jains observe Diwali as an occasion when Lord Mahivira had attained nirvana or eternal bliss.
- The most common and popular celebration of Diwali is as the commemoration of the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana and his return to Ayodhya along with his wife Sita and brother Lakhsman from fourteen years in exile.
- It is believed that the people of Ayodhya celebrated the return of Lord Rama by decorating their houses and city with lamps, sing songs, dance and burst crackers.
The Significance of Four Days of Diwali
Myths and legends have stories attributed to each of the four days of Diwali. The first day is known as Narak Chaturdashi, when Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama vanquished the demon Narak.
The second day is the Amavasya or no moon day, when Goddess Laxmi is worshipped and this day is also known as Laxmi Pujan. Devotees pray for the benevolence of this Goddess of wealth so that the families can prosper throughout the year. This is also the day when Lord Vishnu vanquished the demon Bali in his Baman Avatar and freed the earth from the rule of a tyrant. But since Bali was also a very just ruler and loved by his people, he was allowed to return to his kingdom once a year, which is on the third day of Diwali, and lighten the earthen lamps that people place before their houses, to drive out ignorance and darkness from the minds of people and spread the light of love and knowledge.
The third day of Diwali is known as Kartik Shudda Padyami. The fourth day is observed as Yama Dwitiya and sisters celebrate this day as “Bhai Dooj” where they pray for the well being and long life of their brothers.
Finally, we see that the significance of the victory of the good over evil is the essence of Diwali irrespective of the various myths that surrounds the origin of this celebration. People clean their homes and decorate it with finery and make it a point to illuminate every corner of their homes in order to welcome Goddess Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth and dispel darkness from the minds.
Darkness is a metaphor for ignorance, so with light, all negative forces of anger, envy, fear, injustice and oppression are driven away. Everyone in the society is welcome to participate in this festival of lights so that we can remember our commitment to good deeds and thus come closer to divinity. It is an occasion when people greet their friends and relatives and forget all malice as they renew their ties of peace and brotherhood.