The Festival of Lights in India
One of the grandest festivals celebrated across India is Diwali which means “row of lights.” Diwali marks the start of the Hindu New Year. This year it will start on Tuesday, the 13th of November and will continue for five days until Saturday, the 17th of November. The exact date varies and is being calculated based on the Hindu Luni-Solar calendar (according to the positions of the Sun and the Moon).
Diwali is also known as ‘the festival of lights’ because on this day, people illuminate their home and premises with diyas and colorful lights. It honors the return of Ram and Sita to their kingdom of Ayodhya, after 14 years of exile; thus lamps are lit as a sign of celebration and victory of mankind over evil. It is a festival filled with spiritualism and religious activities, such as worship of Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Ganesh and Ma Kali. In India, people of all religions celebrate Diwali. The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance, although the actual legends that go with the festival are different in different parts of India.
Regardless of the mythological explanation one prefers, Diwali really stands for a reaffirmation of hope, a renewed commitment to friendship and goodwill and a religious celebration of the various joys of life. During this time, there is an air of freedom, festivity and friendliness everywhere. Diwali is a great unifying force which brings all the people of India together to celebrate this festival. On Diwali families gather together and eating lots of foods and sweets. It is also common to send Diwali greeting cards to family members, relatives and friends – similar to Christmas in Europe.