“Deepavali” is a Sanskrit word – Deepa meaning light and Avali, meaning a row. It means a row of lights and indeed illumination forms its main attraction. It symbolises that age-old culture of India which teaches us to vanquish ignorance that subdues humanity and to drive away darkness that engulfs the light of knowledge. Diwali, the festival of lights even to-day in this modern world, projects the rich and glorious past and teaches us to uphold the true values of life.
Deepavali is celebrated for five days. Every home – lowly or mightly – the hut of the poor or the mansion of the rich – is a lit with the orange glow of twinkling diyas-small earthen lamps – to welcome Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth and prosperity. Floral decorations, fireworks and rangoli add grandeur to this festival which heralds joy, mirth and happiness in the ensuring year.
There are many versions about the origin of Diwali. According to some, it was on this day that goddess Laxmi was married to god Vishnu. According to popular legend, Lord Rama had returned to Ayodhya on this day after completing fourteen years of exile and after killing Ravana, releasing Sita from his grip. People of Ayodhya welcomed them with rows of lights outside their homes. Another legend says on this day, Lord Krishna is said to have killed the great demon Narakasur and liberated humanity from the cruel clutches.
The five days of Deepavali has its own significance. Dhan Terash, Kali Chaudasa, Diwali, Padva or Varshapratipada (starting of Vikram Samvat, new year) and fifth day is Bhai Bij. Seventh day is the auspicious day for any good things to begin.