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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Diwali Part - 1 - Festival of Lights

Deepawali(Festival of lights) or Diwali(as it is commonly known as) is arguably one of the most popular and significant festivals in India. This festival of lights is a religious festival observed by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains but such is the enthusiasm, gaiety and celebrations associated with it that Christians, Muslims and people of other religions in India also celebrate it with their Hindu brethren. The basic and universal reason for celebrating this festival is the victory of ‘Good over Evil’. When you look out of your window and see rows of Lamps (Diyas) illuminating the households, firecrackers being burst all around, sweets being distributed everywhere and see happiness on the faces of everybody you admit to yourself that although the darkness of evil is gloomy but, if you have the willingness to overcome it this is the type of celebration you deserve.

The festival of Diwali commemorates the return of Lord Ram, along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman, from his 14-year-long exile and vanquishing the demon-king Ravan. In joyous celebration of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya, the Capital of Rama, illuminated the kingdom with earthen lamps (diyas) and by bursting firecrackers. For Jains, Diwali marks the attainment of moksha or nirvana by Lord Mahavira in 527 BC. Diwali is celebrated across five days in which the day of Laksmi Puja (Goddes of Wealth) Puja is considered the most important day.

The date of Diwali is decided by the Luni-Solar Hindu calendar. This year the festival is being celebrated on 26 October.

Diwali being the festival of lights, is celebrated with symbolic diyas or kandils (colorful paper lanterns) which are an integral part of Diwali decorations. Rangoli, decorations made from coloured powder, is very popular during Diwali. The manner of celebration varies from region to region from fireworks to worship to lighting Diyas and sharing of home-made sweets.

On the day of Diwali folks get busy in preparing sweets like Gulab Jamun, Laddoos, varieties of Barfis e.t.c. and try to outdo each other in taste competition because the moment the puja (worshipping) ends they share the sweets or prasad amongst themselves greeting each other by saying ‘Shubh Deepawali’ (Happy Diwali). It is a common understanding that home-made sweets are much appreciated than the ones bought from markets.

A Diwali without visiting the temples is incomplete. Some of the major temples in Diwali which will be frequented by the worshippers in Delhi are being listed by me. These temples are also a part of the ‘Delhi Temple Circuit’ as these places of worship have either great historic value or have witnessed a miracle take place. These temples which are a must visit when you are in Delhi are as follows :-
(Contd in the next blog.....)



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2 comments:

I love the new background of your blog!Talking about the post,it is so informative yet interesting!:-)Engaging indeed.
I am excited,it is Diwali on the 26th.Thank you for writing,and wish you a very Shubh Deepawali!:)

Thanks for the explanation of what Diwali is. I only knew it was the festival of lights but liked the deeper meaning behind it.