India is celebrating Diwali today. Since early morning the sound of children bursting fire cracker can be heard. Diwali or Deepawali, the festival of lights is one of the biggest festivals of the Eastern hemisphere. Diwali is a symbol of the victory of good over evil. Its not just crackers, million of homes in India will light up “may be ” a billion or more Diya’s (clay lamps) or deep’s in the night. Deepavali literally means rows of lights. Rangoli is also a special feature. Ladies make colorful designs in their houses with multi colors. It is a happy occasion where people will be distributing sweets and wishing each other.
Deepawali signifies many different things to people across the India. In north India, Diwali celebrates Lord Ram homecoming to Ayodhya after defeating of Ravana and his coronation as king. In Gujarat, the festival honors Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. In Bengal, it is associated with the goddess Kali. It also heralds the approach of winter and the beginning of the sowing season.
The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s message on Deepawali says “the festival of lights is a harbinger of joy and happiness. It is a celebration of the triumph of light over darkness and of hope over despair. That the festival is celebrated by people from diverse faiths is a significant affirmation of the great secular traditions of our country.”
Deepawali is also the Hindu New Year. It is a 3-day or 5-day holiday depending on the location in India. The last day of the holiday is a special day for brothers and sisters called Bhaiya-Dooj. Brothers give special presents to their sisters, who cook for them and look after them.