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There are many festivals in Hinduism. But some of them are considered very important. One of them is Diwali, a festival of lights. What is the significance of the festival? Why is it celebrated?

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Diwali is also known as Dipavali which is a Sanskrit word formed from dipa (light or lamp) and avali (row or series). Hence, it means a "row of lights". There are many beliefs behind the festival.

  • It is celebrated for the return of the lord Rama from vanvas as mentioned in Ramayana
  • It is also celebrated for the return of Pandavas from 12 years vanvas as mentioned in Mahabharata.
  • It is celebrated for the victory of Goodness over Evil and Light over Darkness.
  • It is also ends a year and begins new year of Hindu calendar.
  • It is celebrated in other religious like Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism as well (for different significance).

Diwali is a 5-day festival (in most areas of India).

  1. Dhanteras: Dhan means wealth and Teras is the 13th* day of the last month of Vikram Samvat, which is the Hindu calendar. It is celebrated for goddess Lakshmi, goddess of wealth.
  2. Kali Chaudas: aka Choti Diwali. Demon Narakasura was killed by the lord Krishna.
  3. Diwali: As said above: Commemorates the return of Lord Rama to his hometown (Ayodhya) from 14 years of exile in the forest, after defeating the evil demon king Ravana of Lanka. It is the end of the year in the Vikram Samvat calendar.
  4. Padwa: Celebrates the victory of the lord Krishna over Indra, the deity of thunder and rain, by lifting Govardhana Hill with his little finger to save people from the floods. It's the new year of the Vikram Samvat calendar.
  5. Bhai Duj: Bhai means brother and Duj means 2nd (2nd day of the new year). It is a celebration of a loving brother-sister relationship in a similar spirit to Raksha Bandhan but with different rituals.

Before this 5-day festival, people clean their homes, offices etc. During the festival people decorate their homes, offices with lights, diya and Rangoli. People celebrate Diwali with crackers (firecrackers). Padwa is also known as Annakut (a mountain of food). Devotees celebrate this day by creating Annakut for the God.


* 1 to 15 days come twice in a month in the calendar (Vikram Samvat). Dhanteras is the second 13th day of the month.

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    Your answer is good but you can add one more very important point of celebration of Dewali which is... On the same day Goddess Lakshmi was born from Samundra manthan, That's why this day also considered as Birthday of Goddess Lakshami. That's why we does Lakshami puja on this day. Please add this point also in your answer :) – Vishvam Oct 7 '17 at 8:33
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    Thanks. You are welcome to edit/suggest edit in this answer or even create your own :) – hims056 Oct 7 '17 at 9:10
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From an article by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:

Diwali, the festival of lights, celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance. Lamps are lit on this day not just to decorate homes, but also to communicate a profound truth about life — when the darkness within is dispelled through the light of wisdom; the good in us wins over the evil.

Diwali, in essence, is celebrated to kindle the light of wisdom in every heart, the light of life in every home, and bring a smile on every face. Diwali is the shortened form of Deepavali, which literally means rows of lamps. Life has many facets and stages to it. It is important that we throw light on all of them, for if one aspect of our life is in darkness, we cannot express life in its totality. The rows of lamps lit on Diwali remind us that every aspect of life needs our attention.

Lighting Good Qualities

Every lamp that we light is symbolic of a good quality. There are good qualities in every human being. Some have forbearance, some have love, strength, generosity; others have the ability to unite people. When all these qualities are lit, awakened, that is Diwali. Don’t be satisfied with lighting one lamp; light a thousand! If you have the value of service in you, don’t be satisfied only with that. Light the lamp of wisdom in yourself and acquire knowledge. Awaken all the facets of your being.

Letting Go

Another profound symbolism of Diwali is in lighting firecrackers. In life, you often become like a firecracker, waiting to explode with your pent-up emotions, frustration and anger. When you keep suppressing your emotions, cravings and aversions are bound to reach a point where they explode. Bursting crackers is a psychological exercise from ancient times to release bottled-up emotions. When you see an explosion outside, you feel similar sensations within as well. Along with the explosion, there is a lot of light as well. When you let go of these suppressed emotions, the light of knowledge dawns.

Being in the Present

Diwali means to be in the present — dropping the regrets of the past, the worries of the future, and living in the moment. The sweets and exchange of gifts symbolize forgetting the bickering and negativities of the past, and renewal of friendship for the times to come. A true celebration means dissolving all differences. Happiness and wisdom have to spread in society, and that can happen when all come together and celebrate. Even if one member of the family is shrouded in darkness, you cannot be happy. You need to kindle wisdom in every member of your family. Extend it to every member of society, every person on the planet.

Spirit of Service

Any celebration is incomplete without the spirit of service. Whatever we have received from the Divine we should share it with others, for it is in giving that we receive. That is true celebration.

Diwali is a time when you throw light on the wisdom you have gained and welcome a new beginning. When true wisdom dawns, it gives rise to celebration. Celebration is the nature of the spirit and every excuse to celebrate is good. For the one who is not in knowledge, Diwali comes only once a year, but for the wise, Diwali is every moment and every day.

For the one who is not in knowledge, Diwali comes only once a year, but for the wise, Diwali is every moment and every day. This Diwali, celebrate with knowledge and take a sankalpa (vow) to serve humanity. Light the lamp of love in your heart; the lamp of abundance in your home; the lamp of compassion to serve others; the lamp of Knowledge to dispel the darkness of ignorance and the lamp of gratitude for the abundance that the Divine has bestowed on us.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/diwali_b_4172058.html?section=india

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As wiki points out Deepawali is celebrated for different reasons in different parts of India.

In Northern States, it is celebrated for the return of Lord Rama from vanvas.

In Southern States (AP, KA, TN, TS) it is celebrated for killing of Narakasura by Satyabhama, the consort of Lord Krishna (& mother of Narakasura)

In the Eastern States (WB, Assam, ..), it is celebrated on the name of Kali.

Infact, Not just Deepawali, it is same with many festivals.

Diwali as word doesn't carry a positive meaning in Dravidian Languages - It is referred as Deepawali - which incidentally is also the Sanskrit name{ for दीप dīpa "light, lamp" and आवलि āvali "series, line, row"}

FYI, Diwala means bankruptcy and Diwali is the one who got bankrupt.

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