Diwali is one of the most important Hindu festivals as it celebrates the victory of light against darkness, good against evil, and knowledge against ignorance. Let us take a closer look at the happening that occur during this colourful festival.
What Do People Get Up To?
There are millions of Hindus all over the world and they celebrate Diwali by giving their loved ones gifts, by setting off fireworks, by putting candles inside and outside their house and by enjoying huge meals. They also try to pay off any debts that they might have so that they can start afresh at the end of the festival. In India, the celebrations start when the monsoon rains end, and the weather becomes more pleasant and mild.
During the first day of the festival, the celebrants pray, eat a lovely breakfast, and then carry a statue of Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, through the streets. In the south of India, you will see children wearing flower wreaths. Sometimes young boys will build mud forts and castles and show them off to visiting guests. Once darkness falls, fireworks are let off and lamps are floated down the river on small rafts.
Some Background Information
Diwali is known as the Festival of Lights and it honours Rama-chandra, who was Vishnu’s reincarnation. The story goes that Rama was exiled for 14 years, during which he had to fight against a number of demons as well as Ravana, the demon king. He won all of his battles and returned to his people. His people, to celebrate his return, lit up their houses to show that light had beaten darkness. When it comes to Lakshmi, it is believed that she walks the Earth during the Diwali festival and enters into houses that are clean, bright, and pure.
In the south of India, the festival celebrates the defeat of Asura Naraka, a ferocious king, who imprisoned a lot of people. Krishna, who is another Hindu deity, was the one responsible for subduing Naraka and freeing all of his prisoners.
So, Diwali celebrations can vary depending on the community that you are in, but wherever you are it is used to celebrate light over darkness.
During the five days of Diwali, towns and villages will host fairs, which are known as Melas. Here you will find local produce and quality handmade items. There will usually be a lot of entertainment too, so boredom is never something that rises its ugly head. The women will wear the most colourful clothes that they have and will put henna tattoos on their hands. You will often see villagers throwing around bags of colourful flour and making one huge colourful mess.
Diwali gives people an excuse to shop and can be compared to the Christmas period in Europe. This is the time where people will buy new furniture for their homes, new clothes, and jewellery. It is believed that Indians spend a large portion of the yearly income during Diwali. During the Diwali season, it is estimated that Indians spend the equivalent of $4-5 billion.
It Is Not All Positive Though
There has been a lot of debate about the pollution that all fireworks that are let off during Diwali cause. Many places in India are already quite polluted and have poor air quality, but tests have been carried out that prove that the levels get even worse during the Diwali festivals. Some cities have even gone as far as banning the sale of fireworks in an attempt to drastically improve the air quality.
Furthermore, fireworks, if they are not handled properly, can cause serious injuries. Which they do all over India every Diwali festival. Many people suffer just minor burns, but there are always a few that end Diwali with life-changing injuries.