Deepawali, Deepavali, or Diwali is the biggest and the brightest of all Hindu festivals. It is the festival of lights: deep means “light” and avali “a row” to become “a row of lights”. People light up their houses and shops with diyas. People worship the Lord Ganesha for welfare and prosperity and Goddess Lakshmi for wealth and wisdom. In some parts of India, it marks as the beginning of a new year. Hindus worship the Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi during Deepawali. This festival is celebrated in the Hindu month of Kartikamasam which falls sometime during October or November.
Diwali is celebrated to honor Rama-chandra, the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu. It is believed that on this day Rama returned to his people after 14 years of exile during which he fought and won a battle against the demons and the demon king, Ravana. People lit their houses to celebrate his victory over evil. The goddess of happiness and good fortune, Lakshmi, also figures into the celebration. It is believed that she roams the Earth on this day and enters the house that is pure, clean, and bright. In many parts of India, Deepawali is celebrated for five consecutive days and is one of the most popular festivals in India. Hindus regard it as a celebration of life and use the occasion to strengthen relationships. People clean and decorate their house before the festival. Beyond the lights, gambling and fun, Diwali is also a time to reflect on life and make changes for the upcoming year.
The Four Days of Diwali
Each day of Diwali has its own tale. The first day of the festival is Naraka Chaturdasi marks the vanquishing of the demon Naraka by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama.
Amavasya is the second day of Deepawali, marks the worship of Lakshmi when she is in her most benevolent mood, fulfilling the wishes of her devotees. Amavasya also tells the story of Lord Vishnu, who vanquished the tyrant Bali and banished him to hell. Bali is allowed to return to earth once a year to light millions of lamps and dispel darkness and ignorance while spreading the radiance of love and wisdom.
It is on the third day of Deepawali, Kartika Shudda Padyami, that Bali steps out of hell and rules the earth according to the boon given by Lord Vishnu. The fourth day is referred to as Yama, and on this day sisters invite their brothers to their homes.