AN INDIAN FESTIVAL
Diwali is the most popular festival in India. It is celebrated throughout the country with great enthusiasm. The word Diwali has been taken from the Sanskrit. That is Deep + avali. It means a row of lights. One of the common things in all the cities and villages is that earthen lamps, candles or electric lamps are lit on all the houses. Some rich and well-to-do people decorate their houses with rows of electric bulbs in different colours. In the distant past king Ram returned to Ayodhya on this Amavasya (dark night) after defeating Ravana the demon king of Lanka. All the paths to the palace were lighted by the people who celebrated the day as a victory of good over the evil.
In some parts of the country celebrations start a week earlier. Sweets and snacks are prepared in all the houses for a week and are offered to the guests who visit one another on the festive day. The main festivities start a day earlier which is known as the smaller Diwali. Actually Diwali is the culmination of the festivities that start on Dussehra. It is the day on which Ravana was killed and Sita was freed from his clutches. On the Dussehra day processions are taken out, the biggest being in Mysore. It is really the Victory Day of the nation. Diwali is the day of unity – the return of the Victor to the Capital.
The old national heroes among Hindus have been considered gods as they saved the nation from the foreigners and the evil. Thus the national heroes have become religious deities. All the national festivals of the past have become religious festivals. Thus in many parts of the country people go to temples for offerings. As Diwali is a day of victory it is a day of prosperity of the nation too. Lakshmi being the goddess of riches everyone worships goddess Lakshmi in his house and in shops in the evening. Hinduism is based on wisdom. Ganesh is the god of wisdom. So Hindus first worship god Ganesh, then any other God. Thus they worship Ganesh and Lakshmi on Diwali day.
Of late some new national festivals have come up. But they are limited to government functions or schools only. Diwali is a national festival which has lasted thousands of years. Its impact is so much that even today the whole country resounds with joy and gaiety on the day never seen on any other day.