What is Diwali?

By Prema Kapoor

Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is the biggest and most celebrated holiday for Hindus around the world. The festival gets its name from the clay lamps (diyas) Hindus light and place inside and outside of their homes. While it’s a common celebration for Hindus, many other faiths join in on the festivities, such as Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs.

There are many interpretations for the holiday, but the most popular include Lord Rama’s return to his home of Ayodhya after he defeated the demon Ravana, the celebration of Lord Krishna defeating the demon Narakasura, or the celebration of the day Lord Vishnu sent the demon Bali to rule the nether world. No matter the interpretation, the one thing they all have in common is that Diwali marks the victory of good over evil.

One of the things about Diwali that makes it enjoyable for those who celebrate is the fact it spans over five days. The first day is to clean their homes and shop for new gold. On the second day, people will decorate their homes with diyas and create designs on their floor using coloured powders or sand. During the third day, families will get together for a Lakshmi puja, to honour the goddess of fortune. The puja is then followed by feasts and fireworks. On the fourth day, the first day of the Hindu New Year is celebrated, and friends and families will bestow gifts and good wishes to one another. On the final day of Diwali, brothers will often visit their married sisters, who would have prepared a warm welcome and a meal.

This celebration is beautiful, and fun for anyone to participate in, even if they are just learning about the religion and culture. And to those celebrating, Happy Diwali! 🙏

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