Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the Hindus. It is celebrated in all parts of India with great zeal and enthusiasm. It is also culled “Deepavali’ or the festival of lights. Indians living abroad also celebrate it. Countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Kampuchea which have been influenced by the Hindu culture also celebrate this festival in one form or the other.
It is believed that when Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after spending 14 years in exile, and after defeating the demon king Ravana who had kidnappec his wife Sita, the people of Ayodhya gave him a hearty welcome they lighten rows of earthen lamps on their house tops. The Hindus have been celebrating this great event since then every year. This event is celebrated by the people exactly 20 days after Dussehra.
Diwali is celebrated by people with great pomp and show. Preparations for this festival are made many days in advance. People repair, clean and whitewash their houses. They paint the doors and windows of their houses to give them a face-lift. They buy new clothes for themselves and for their children. They also buy gifts for presenting to their relatives and friends. Purchase of new utensils on the eve of Diwali is considered very auspicious.
The greatest attraction of this festival is the sweets. All people whether rich or poor buy and eat sweets on this day. The consumption of sweets on this day is the highest. Confectioners start preparing sweets many days in advance. Otherwise they cannot cope with the heavy demand of the people.
The manufacturers of crackers, candles, balloons, toys and idols of gods and goddesses do a roaring business during this festival season. The hawkers and petty dealers of various goods squat on the pavements to sell their goods. The bazars are decorated profusely. A number of shopkeepers declare a “clearance sale” and sell their goods at a discount to attract customers.
Diwali melas are organised in some colonies by Welfare Associations where everything is sold less than one roof. Cultural programmes are also shown at these melas.
People send out colourful Diwali Greeting cards to their relatives and friends. Gifts of sweet packets are given by the people to their relatives and friends.
The Diwali festival has great religious significance. In the evening, people worship Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth. Some people keep their doors open throughout the night in the hope that the Goddess will visit them. They have the superstition that if the doors are kept closed; the Goddess might go back without blessing them.
At night, people illuminate their houses by lighting candles and earthen lamps. Children celebrate the occasion by bursting crackers and other fireworks. One can hear the deafening noise of crackers in all the streets.
Businessmen close their Books of Accounts on this auspicious day they also thoroughly clean and white-wash their shops and office premises.
Unfortunately, some people gamble on the day of Diwali considering it to be an auspicious act. But it is a very despicable belief. This belief must be dispelled because gambling is not only a crime but also a social evil. Diwali is a holy festival and, therefore, it should be celebrated in a holy spirit.