Why we celebrate
Magnificent lights from earthen lamps, candles and electric lamps
illuminate the streets of India. As far as the eye can see, no doorstep,
tree, riverbank and house is left without decoration for this festive
evening. It is as if the whole country has transformed itself into an
enormous, ubiquitous flame, immune to all who try to blow it out.
Happiness, joy and celebration pervade throughout the bodies of all Indians
on this "auspicious" occasion. But why? Why does all this
celebrating take place and bring such wonderful feelings into the hearts and
souls of every man, woman and child? Why?
"Dipavali" (Diwali) means "row of lights." This name
suits the festival well, for there are thousands of lights lining streets
and many other places, in the various regions of India.
Diwali is celebrated during Kartik (October-November). Wealth and great
prosperity are also a part of Diwali. On this day gambling is favored
greatly. Lord Shiva gambled everything he had to his wife Parvati and lost.
One of his sons gambled with Parvati and won it back for his father. The
other son gambled with the other son and won it all back for his mother. The
family came to a resolution, which stated that gambling would be "auspicious"
on this day.
Dipavali is a day of spirits visiting family members, friendliness, unity,
food, fireworks, etc. It cannot be celebrated without a union, for festivals
belong to everyone, not just one person.
There are many beliefs as to when Dipavali was first celebrated and how it
came to be. The most common of these stories is to celebrate "coronation"
of Lord Rama. As the legend goes, Rama returned to Ayodhya after being in
exile for 14 years. He destroyed the evil demon Ravana, as well.
Diwali is also the beginning of the Hindu calendar and on this day
merchants open their shops and farmers plant their winter crops. As you can
see, Diwali is an excellent and joyous holiday, important to Indians and
Different Diwali Traditions
... by Mala Krishnamoorthy; Age 13
Deepavali or Divali is the festival of lights. It is celebrated by Hindus
all over the world. Deepavali is celebrated in the dark half of Ashvin, or
the month of October. The day when the festival is celebrated changes
slightly from year to year because it is based on the lunar calendar.
Deepavali is celebrated all over India and the reason for the celebration
is different between North and South India.
In South India, Deepavali is celebrated to mark the killing of the evil
monster, Narakasura, by Lord Krishna. Before Narakasura died, Krishna
granted him his last wish, which was that the day of his death be celebrated
with festivities and fun. On Deepavali day, families, adults and children
alike, wake up early and prepare for the celebration. They take a bath with
oil to rinse away the evil.
Folks in North India celebrate Dipavali to mark the return of the God Rama
to Ayodhya after being banished to forest for 14 years. It is believed that
upon his return, Rama ascends to his rightful place on the throne of
Ayodhya. On Divali, this story is reenacted, followed by fireworks and other
Some Hindus celebrate Lakshmi Puja on the day after Deepavali, which most
consider an important part of Deepavali. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth.
Lakshmi idols are washed and decorated followed by prayer and worship,
seeking blessings and prosperity.
During Deepavali, streets in India are lit up and houses are cleaned.
People adorn new clothes. The festivities include extensive fireworks at
night. Small candles called divas are lit up and placed on the front steps
and rangoli (fancy patterns) are painted on the steps as a sign of welcome.
To all Hindus, this festival is a renewal in hope for success, prosperity
and happiness in life. Hindus believe there is one main moral to this
festival: Good always wins over evil.
The meaning of Diwali
...by Jyotsna Mullur; Age 12
Diwali or Dipavali means an array of lamps, rows of diyas (deep = lamp,
vali = array). Of all the festivals celebrated in India, Diwali is the most
glamorous and important. This festival is enthusiastically enjoyed by people
of every religion. Its magical and radiant touch creates an atmosphere of
joy and festivity.
As a family festival, it is celebrated 20 days after Dussehra, on the 13th
day of the dark fortnight of the month of Ashwin (October, November). It is
a festival of lights, symbolizing the victory of righteousness and the
lifting of spiritual darkness. It celebrates the victory of good over evil -
and the glory of light.
This festival commemorates Lord Rama's return to his kingdom Ayodhya after
completing his 14-year exile. Homes are decorated by lights or diyas, and we
go to our friend's house to celebrate this festival. Diwali's the time for
fun and revelry. Diwail is also a time for pooja and tradition.
My Favorite Festival
...by Kunal Chawla; Age 12
Diwali is one of the most important cultural festival in India and its
also my favorite festival. I celebrated Diwali in India in October, 2003.
We celebrate Diwali because its a significant part of our heritage.
Diwali is the day when King Rama's coronation was celebrated in Ayodhya
after victory over Ravana in the epic war.
On Diwali, I bought new clothes, firecrackers, sweets etc. During evening I
went to temple to pray to god with my family. We also gave food, clothes,
money and other useful things to the poor. We lighted little lamps called
dias, and put them all around the house. At night we played with
firecrackers and had a big feast. We ate sweets, kheer, gujia, pudi,
rasmalai, peda etc.
I celebrated Diwali with my family and friends. I picked this festival
because I thought Diwali is the most enjoyable festival that I can remember
and it is the festival of lights. I had so much fun and I like Diwali very