Diwali – The Indian Festival of Lights

When I hear the sound of the fireworks, when I smell the fragrances of jasmine and camphor in the air, when I see the balconies of the apartments in my colony lit up and decorated beautifully, when I feel the joy all around me, and when I taste the sweet and spicy delicacies, I know it’s DIWALI!

Diwali is not just the festival of lights, it’s the festival of prosperity and happiness too. It lasts for five days -Dhanteras, Narak Charturdasi, Lakshmi Poojan, Padva and Bhai Dooj. These are days of celebration, love and family-time. People meet their friends and relatives and there are government holidays on two of these important days. Let me explain what these days are all about…

The first day of Diwali, typically called Dhanteras is celebrated by Hindus all over India. There may be different names given to this day, but basically, “Dhan” means wealth. And all of us worship Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth. Typically, a lot of ‘pujas’ or prayers are offered to this Goddess all throughout Diwali. The next day is called Narak Chaturdasi, a sort of scary day, for me, at least. This reminds me of a short incident from when I was a kid… I never woke up early on holidays; my mum wanted me to wake up early on a particular day and I refused to do so. She told me a myth before I went to sleep; she said that the whoever did not wake up before sunrise in the morning, and did not take a head-bath would go to hell after death. Since Narak means hell, I actually thought it made sense, and I totally freaked out. I was so scared that I made sure my mum made a ‘God-promise’ to wake me up way before sunrise so I could go wash my hair. The next day, however, my mum woke me up at seven-thirty. I was shocked. I asked her as to how could she do this to me. Then she laughed and told me it was only a trick to wake me up in time so that we could go to our relative’s place. Thinking of this incident only makes me feel stupid and laugh. So, many people actually still do wake up before sunrise and take a head-bath and pray. The third day of Diwali is Lakshmi Poojan – a day of crackers and well, the name says it – there’s yet another ‘puja’ for the Goddess of Wealth. The surprising thing is that there is a stipulated time, usually in the evening when it is considered ‘shubh’ or auspicious to do this particular puja. And everyone does this puja; we take out all of the jewellery kept at home, like gold chains, thousand-rupee notes, etc. and we consider those as our God and do a puja of the physical wealth. Sounds weird? Well, that’s the tradition! Padva and Bhai Dooj are the last two days of Diwali when the relation between a husband and wife and between a brother and sister are celebrated respectively. Gifts are exchanged and sounds of laughter and joy fill the air.

To me, though, Diwali means relishing on the savouries and delicacies that my mum prepares at home, and those that we buy from outside. Some of these include Laddoos, Kaju Katlis, Dry fruits, Chaklis, Chivdas, Shankarpalas, etc. These are very oily and high-calorie foods, but are very delicious. I try to control myself from eating too much, but that never happens; I always end up gaining weight after Diwali. XD Never mind… So, as I was saying, Diwali is one of the most important festivals in India. The story behind Diwali is very unique and interesting. I hope most of you would’ve heard of “Ramayana”, a Hindu mythological book that is very sacred and important. Well, if you haven’t heard of this book, it’s okay. In this book, the main protagonist, Lord Ram has to obey the wishes of his father, the king and go on an exile into the forest for fourteen long years. His wife and brother go with him to the forest. However, the main antagonist, Ravan, kidnaps Sita, Lord Ram’s wife, and takes her to his territory – the island of Lanka i.e. modern day Sri Lanka. Lord Ram bravely rescues his wife and returns back to his kingdom where he is welcomed and coroneted. The day when he returned is marked as Diwali, when the people of the kingdom welcomed Lord Ram, his brother and wife with beautifully lit oil-lamps on a moonless night. That’s why India and some parts of the world are so beautifully decorated and lit up…

I think the main reason behind celebrating Diwali is to bring people together in the modern-day societies, where people do not have time for each other, not even for their own families. And since many people have started living in nuclear families, this festival’s idea really does make sense. However, the commercialization of this festival has taken place over time which not only destroys the good feelings that people have, or at least had for each other, but also destroys the whole central idea of the festival. Also, the amount of pollution caused during Diwali is crazy. Every family bursts their own fireworks or crackers. Over these years, after several warnings from the Government and awareness campaigns, people are trying to keep the fireworks down. However, the harm caused is already too much. We have to take care to give back mother earth what we took from her. However hard it is to control ourselves from bursting crackers, we must do it. The fireworks industry is also extremely unethical since it employs children under fifteen to make their products, and it has a negative impact on their health. We must try our best to protect the rights of these delicate children by boycotting theese unethically produced fireworks.

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9 Comments

  1. Great article.Impressed with the header image…simply amazing.Great interpretation of Diwali as well.Fine writing skills.Keep it up.!

    Btw I write movie reviews at mt blog.So if u can spare some time..please drop by and feedback is welcome.Thanks!

    Like

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