Diwali is one the most important festivals of Hindus . It is celebrated with great enthusiasm throughout India. It is a festival of lights. It falls on the Amavasya of the month of Kartik every year. This year it was celebrated yesterday only ie on 19th day of October.
Many legends are associated with this festival. According to most popular one, it marks the victory of Ram over Ravana. As a matter of fact, Diwali is the symbol of the victory of the forces of good, over evil.
According to popular legend, on this day Lord Ram reached Ayodhya along with Sita and Lakshman. The villagers of Ayodhya welcomed Ram, Lakshman and Sita on their home coming, by decorating and illuminating their village with diyas. According to Jains this is the day when Lord Mahavira attained “moksha or salvation”.
It is a festival of light and fireworks. It comes after Durga Puja in West Bengal and some other places in North India . As the lights keep away the darkness, Goddess Kali drives away the evil forces in our world.
Famous Kali temples are at Dakshineswar, Tarapith, Kalighat, Kamakhya, Bakreswar. In Dakshineswar, Sri Ramakrishna would worshiped Kali, he conversed with goddess Kali, as you and me talk. Sri Ramkrishna’s great disciple Swami Vivekananda was initiated in his spiritual journey here, later he went to Shikago in America to win over the world. He taught us not to discriminate people on the basis of caste, creed and religion, which many of us forgotten today. True he was a religious leader, more, he was a social reformer.
Great preprations are made for this festival. Everyone starts making arrangement well before Diwali, houses are cleaned and decorated with lights, flowers etc. On this festival, sweets are made and distributed among friends and relatives. People indulge in fun and frolic on the day of Diwali. At the same time during night, fire-works and crackers are also set-off. The bright flames of the fire-work present an exquisite sight in the darkness of night. Although it is primarily a Hindu festival, I have seen many people from Muslim communities in Mumbai burn and display fireworks and they love it. There is no complex in their mind which many of our Hindu brothers will never believe, perhaps do not want. This and many other daily experiences in Mumbai makes me feel that the religious divide is not so much as is made out to be by our news reporters. My Muslim family friends brought many gifts for us on this occasion of Diwali, I am grateful to them.
The festival wears a lovely look. Everyone is gay and mirthful, some celebrate it in the most enthusiastic way, someother indulge in gambling. According to gamblers, if he wins gamble in this day he will make profit in his business throughout the year, it is a great omen for the year. At night people illuminate their houses, walls and terraces with earthen diyas. The glittering lights in the darkness of night present a beautiful spectacle.
Many worship Lakshmi; the Goddess of wealth on this day. They pray so that Goddess Lakshmi may visit their homes. Lakshmi Puja is the Puja of Lakshmi and is performed generally at night during Diwali.
Hinduism is a very complex religion, hundreds of Gods and Goddesses are in the pantheon. One God is popular in one corner, another is popular in another corner. Only celebration of Diwali is widely popular and celebrated throughout the country, no other festival has so much reach. Thus the festival of Diwali, is more or less a celebration of Indian identity.
In this holy day I would request all Indians, not to hate any other religion, learn to respect others. Unless we know to respect other religion, followers of other religion will not respect ours.