Celebration of Diwali
Diwali is the biggest of all Hindu festivals. Learn about its origin, significance.
1. Festival of Lights
Diwali is perhaps the most well known of the Hindu festivals.The word Diwali means rows of lighted lamps .Diwali is known as the festival of light because houses, shops and public places are decorated with small earthenware oil lamps called diyas.
2. History
Diwali dates back to ancient times in India, as a festival after the summer harvest in the Hindu calendar month of Karthikai. The festival is mentioned in Padma Purana, the Skanda Purana, and other Sanskrit Hindu scriptures the divas (lamps) are mentioned in Skanda Purana to symbolically represent parts of sun, the cosmic giver of light and energy to all life, who seasonally transitions in the Hindu calendar month of Kartik.
3. Religious significance in Hinduism
The religious significance of Diwali varies regionally within India, depending on the school of Hindu philosophy, regional myths, legends, and beliefs.Many see Diwali honouring the return of the lord Rama, his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana from exile, as told in the ancient Hindu epic called the Ramayana. To some, Diwali marks the return of Pandavas after 12 years of Vanvas and one year of agyatavas in the other ancient Hindu epic called the Mahabharata. Many other Hindus believe Diwali is linked to the celebration of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, and wife of deity Vishnu. The five day festival of Diwali begins on the day Lakshmi was born from the churning of cosmic ocean of milk during the tug of war between the forces of good and forces of evil the night of Diwali is the day Lakshmi chose Vishnu as her husband and then married him.Some Hindus offer pujas to additional or alternate deities such as Kali, Ganesha, Saraswati, and Kubera. Other Hindus believe that Diwali is the day Vishnu came back to Lakshmi and their abode in the Vaikuntha so those who worship Lakshmi receive the benefit of her good mood, and therefore are blessed with mental, physical and material well being during the year ahead. In India s eastern region, such as West Bengal, Lakshmi is not worshipped, only deity Kali is worshipped and the festival is called Kali Puja. In India s Braj and north central regions, deity Krishna is recognized. People mark Mount Govardhan, and celebrate legends about Krishna. In other regions, the feast of Annakoot is celebrated, with 56 or 108 different cuisines prepared, offered to Krishna, then shared and celebrated by the local community.
4. Religious significance in Jainism
Diwali has special significance in Jainism. Lord Mahavira, the last of the Jain Tirthankar of this era, attained Nirvana or Moksh on this day at Pavapuri on 15 October 527 BCE, on Chaturdashi of Kartika. According to the Kalpasutra by Acharya Bhadrabahu,3rd century BC, many gods were present there, illuminating the darkness.Therefore, Jains celebrate Diwali as a day of remembering Mahavira.
5. Spiritual significance
Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs to mark historical events, stories or myths, but they all spiritually mark the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, hope over despair.In the Yoga, Vedanta, and Samkhya schools of Hindu philosophy, a central belief is that there is something beyond the physical body and mind which is pure, infinite, and eternal, called the Atman. The celebration of Diwali as the victory of good over evil,refers to the light of higher knowledge dispelling all ignorance, the ignorance that masks one s true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite,immanent and transcendent reality. With this awakening comes compassion and the awareness of the oneness of all things, and knowledge overcomes ignorance.Diwali is the celebration of this Inner Light over spiritual darkness,knowledge over ignorance, right over wrong, good over evil.

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