Diwali | Festival of Lights | Events, Celebration Ideas & Gifts

One of the most significant festivals in Indian culture, Diwali, the festival of lights, sees millions attend firework displays, prayers and celebratory events across the world every autumn. The festival is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains for a variety of reasons, although the main theme which runs throughout is the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil. To know much more about the festival, keep reading,

History of Diwali

The history of Diwali is replete with legends and these legends are moored to the stories of Hindu religious scriptures, mostly the Puranas.
Though the central theme of all legends point out to the classic truth of the victory of the good over the evils, the mode of their presentation and the characters differ. Diwali, being the festival of lights, lighting the lamp of knowledge within us means to understand and reflect upon the significant purpose of each of the five days of festivities and to bring those thoughts in to the day to day lives.

The five day of Diwali

The first day of Diwali is called Dhanvantari Triodasi or Dhanwantari Triodasi also called Dhan Theras. The second day of Diwali is called Narak Chaturdasi. It is the fourteenth lunar day (thithi) of the dark forthnight of the month of Kartik and the eve of Diwali. On this day Lord Krishna destroyed the demon Narakasur and made the world free from fear. The third day of Diwali is the actual Diwali. This is the day when worship for Mother Lakshmi is performed. On the fourth day of Diwali, Goverdhan Pooja is performed. The fifth day of the Diwali is called Bhratri Dooj. It is a day dedicated to sisters.

Hindu Mythology

The Story of Rama and Sita: Lord Rama was a great warrior King who was exiled by his father Dashratha, the King of Ayodhya, along with his wife Sita and his younger brother Lakshman, on his wife’s insistence. Lord Rama returned to his Kingdom Ayodhya after 14 years of exile, in which he put an end to the demon Ravana of Lanka, who was a great Pundit, highly learned but still evil dominated his mind. After this victory of Good over Evil, Rama returned to Ayodhya. In Ayodhya, the people welcomed them by lighting rows of clay lamps. So, it is an occasion in honor of Rama’s victory over Ravana; of Truth’s victory over Evil.

The Story of King Bali and Vamana Avatar (the Dwarf)

The other story concerns King Bali, who was a generous ruler. But he was also very ambitious. Some of the Gods pleaded Vishnu to check King Bali’s power.
Vishnu came to earth in the form of a Vamana (dwarf) dressed as priest. The dwarf approached King Bali and said “You are the ruler of the three worlds: the Earth, the world above the skies and the underworld. Would you give me the space that I could cover with three strides?” King Bali laughed. Surely a dwarf could not cover much ground, thought the King, who agreed to dwarf’s request. At this point, the dwarf changed into Vishnu and his three strides covered the Earth, the Skies and the whole Universe! King Bali was send to the underworld. As part of Diwali celebrations, some Hindus remember King Bali.
The Defeat of Narkasur by Lord Krishna
Lord Vishnu in his 8th incarnation as Krishna destroyed the demon Narkasura, who was causing great unhappiness amongst the people of the world. Narkasura was believed to be a demon of filth, covered in dirt. He used to kidnap beautiful young women and force them to live with him. Eventually, their cries for rescue were heard by Vishnu, who came in the form of Krishna. First, Krishna had to fight with a five-headed monster that guarded the demon’s home. Narkasura hoped that his death might bring joy to others. Krishna granted his request and the women were freed. For Hindus, this story is a reminder that good can still come out of evil.

How is Diwali celebrated?

The festival is marked by large firework displays, to remember the celebrations which, according to the legend, took place upon Rama’s return as locals set off their own version of fireworks. Those celebrating the festival also light traditional earthen Dias (candles) and place them around the home.
The lamps symbolize knowledge or one’s inner light, which brings about inner peace and fights off any traces of darkness and ignorance. and decorate their houses with colorful rangoli artworks – patterns created on the floor using colored rice or powder, These include bells, flower garlands, wall hangings, mirrors, LED lights, etc. This is a joyful way to welcome the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity. Rangoli designs can be found across the internet. There are also ready-made wooden Rangoli available. These are beautifully hand crafted and painted on light pieces of wood. There are innumerable ways to arrange them.
So, just go wild with your creativity and create your own design
During Diwali, families and friends share sweets and gifts and there is also a strong belief in giving food and goods to those in need. It is also traditional for homes to be cleaned and new clothes to be worn at the time of the festival. It is customary to buy utensils and ornaments on the first day of Diwali.

Perform Laxmi Puja

During this ritual, you can invoke the Goddess by reciting the Vedic mantras or by thinking of her being showered with gold coins with two elephants standing one each side of her as you chant her name. Offerings are made and at the end, the aarti is performed quietly and a peaceful atmosphere should accompany the entire ritual.
Lighting some firecrackers and firework are a common part of Diwali, used to symbolize warding off evil from your surroundings. They are usually set off in greatest numbers on the actual day of Diwali (the third day). If you’re setting off your own firecrackers, be careful and follow all safety precautions associated with using firecrackers.

Be careful of noisy crackers

Take care to keep pets and small children indoors and away from the excitement and frightening noises. See this article for more information.

Diwali Gift Ideas

Indulge into the memorable celebration of the festival with your dear ones and exchange beautiful gifts as token of love. However selecting the gifts for loved ones require lots of brainstorming and head scratching and even after purchasing gift people still doubt whether they have selected right gift or not.
If you too are going through the same ‘dilemma’ then just check out the following bright Diwali gift ideas and find yourself ad mist of handy tips & creative ideas.

Silver Gifts

Silver Gifts are the traditional gifts for the occasion of Diwali. These are available in huge variety and trendiest of designs at the time of Diwali Festival.
Lakshmi – Ganesh Silver coins besides crockery items and small silver showpieces are quite popular as Diwali Gifts.

Decorative Pieces

Home decoration pieces are something which people might not buy for themselves but love to receive as gifts. Diwali is the time to make new beginnings, so spruce up the place of your closed ones with resplendent charisma of wall hangings, wooden sculptures, metal lantern etc.

Dry Fruits

People love to receive Dry Fruits on Diwali. The advantage with Dry Fruits is that they can be stored for long periods of time besides you dont have to bother about the specific taste of the person as in the case of sweets. Dry Fruits are relished with joy in the winter season that is approaching at the time of Diwali.

Other Popular Diwali Gifts:

Household gifts like gadgets, chinaware along with the apparels, paintings, crackers, candles, and books also enjoy great utility value. As the festival connotes with the enrich traditional values various Pooja items like Pooja thali, Dias, gold gifts, office stationary are also gaining immense popularity.

So, in conclusion, Religions around the world not only bring people together but provide these people’s lives with purpose, meaning and hope through the use of rituals, ancient stories and celebrations.

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