Diwali is one of the biggest festival celebrated with much fervor in India around the end of October or beginning of November every year. Homes are lit up with lights to welcome Lakshmi the Goddess of wealth and crackers are burst from sundown to wee hours of the morn.
Diwali is a term derived from ‘Deepavali’ which literally means ‘a row of lights’. Traditionally the festival is celebrated by lighting earthen lamps called ‘Diyas’ filled with oil and arranged in a row, hence the name ‘Deepavali’. The lamps are lit to celebrate the triumph of good over evil. Many myths and legends are associated with the festival, the most popular of which is the commemoration of the return of Lord Rama, the Prince of Ayodhya who is an incarnate of hindu God Vishnu, along with his wife Sita and brother Laxmana after spending 14 years of exile in the forest during which he led an army of monkeys and vanquished the powerful and indestructible Demon king Ravana of Lanka who had abducted Sita from their abode in the jungle by disguising himself as a sage. This victory which signifies the triumph of good over evil and the final return of Rama to Ayodhya as the King was celebrated by the people by lighting up ‘diyas’ (lamps) that lit the kingdom.
Although Diwali is a Hindu festival, it is celebrated even by those belonging to other religions as well, partaking in the infectious joy and cheer that reverberates throughout the country and even abroad where Indian communities are found. In present times, diyas or earthen lamps are lit mostly as a token. Homes are mostly lit abright with electrical lights and crackers are burst in celebration as are seen in the pictures.
Today the festival of lights has become synonymous with the festival of fire crackers. The only downside is the massive increase in the pollution level. In big cities which are already facing high pollution levels, the smog created by the fire crackers are amply evident the following day which takes days to clear. It is high time we become more sensible and go easy on the crackers. Instead we should light more lamps and enjoy the goodwill and cheer, more than just bursting crackers non-stop. It will not only make the festival more meaningful but also good for everybody’s health as well. Happy Deepavali…. enjoy the lights.