What is the significance of the festival Diwali? Why is it celebrated?
Diwali is also known as Dipavali which is a Sanskrit word formed from dipa (light or lamp) and avali (row or series). Hence, it means a "row of lights". There are many beliefs behind the festival.
- It is celebrated for the return of the lord Rama from vanvas as mentioned in Ramayana
- It is also celebrated for the return of Pandavas from 12 years vanvas as mentioned in Mahabharata.
- It is celebrated for the victory of Goodness over Evil and Light over Darkness.
- It is also ends a year and begins new year of Hindu calendar.
- It is celebrated in other religious like Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism as well (for different significance).
Diwali is a 5-day festival (in most areas of India).
- Dhanteras: Dhan means wealth and Teras is the 13th* day of the last month of Vikram Samvat, which is the Hindu calendar. It is celebrated for goddess Lakshmi, goddess of wealth.
- Kali Chaudas: aka Choti Diwali. Demon Narakasura was killed by the lord Krishna.
- Diwali: As said above: Commemorates the return of Lord Rama to his hometown (Ayodhya) from 14 years of exile in the forest, after defeating the evil demon king Ravana of Lanka. It is the end of the year in the Vikram Samvat calendar.
- Padwa: Celebrates the victory of the lord Krishna over Indra, the deity of thunder and rain, by lifting Govardhana Hill with his little finger to save people from the floods. It's the new year of the Vikram Samvat calendar.
- Bhai Duj: Bhai means brother and Duj means 2nd (2nd day of the new year). It is a celebration of a loving brother-sister relationship in a similar spirit to Raksha Bandhan but with different rituals.
Before this 5-day festival, people clean their homes, offices etc. During the festival people decorate their homes, offices with lights, diya and Rangoli. People celebrate Diwali with crackers (firecrackers). Padwa is also known as Annakut (a mountain of food). Devotees celebrate this day by creating Annakut for the God.
* 1 to 15 days come twice in a month in the calendar (Vikram Samvat). Dhanteras is the second 13th day of the month.
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