Diwali or Deepavali is the festival of lights. It is unarguably the biggest Indian festival and is celebrated in almost all parts of the country. Navratri is the only other festival celebrated throughout India.
The word Diwali means rows of lighted lamps. The festival got this name because people celebrate it by placing illuminated earthen lamps in and around their home.
When is Diwali celebrated?
Diwali is celebrated in the month of Kartika (October/November). In 2017, it falls on October 18. There are several legends behind the festival. According to one popular legend Diwali celebrates Rama’s return to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. It is said that people celebrated his homecoming by placing rows of lighted lamps along the streets and in their homes. It was a dark new moon night but the thousands of lighted lamps made it bright and joyous. The Hindu philosophy associates darkness with ignorance and vice. The symbolic act of lighting the lamps dispels the darkness and thus the ignorance from our lives and the world.
Diwali is also the biggest shopping season in India. On the day of Diwali people pray to Lakshmi who is the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. In fact, Lakshmi Puja is one of the key components of Diwali celebrations.
Diwali is a five day festival. The day of Diwali is the third day. Deepdaan and Dhanteras are the first two days of the festival. The fourth day is meant for Govardhan pooja, the mountain that Lord Krishna said was responsible for bringing rain and prosperity to the people to Vrindhavan.
Besides being a religious festival, Diwali has deep social, cultural and economic aspects too. Even the poorest of the poor save money the whole year to celebrate Diwali. Needless to say, Diwali gives a boost to economy.