November 2012

Indian Festivals - Diwali

Sky Lantern

Although Diwali was celebrated on November 13 across the country, a few odd houses are yet to remove the colourful sky lanterns as if unable to come to terms with the fact that the festival of lights has indeed ended this calender year.

Diwali is one of the most important festivals and people decorate their homes with lights and lamps on this day. Beautiful sky lanterns, coming in different shapes, are strung over light bulbs.

Laxmi Puja, or the worship of the goddess of prosperity and wealth, is the main event on Diwali. It is believed that Goddess Laxmi visits everyone during Diwali and brings peace and prosperity to all. It is extremely important to keep the house spotlessly clean on Diwali as it is believed that Goddess Lakshmi likes cleanliness and will visit the cleanest house first. This is also the reason why the broom is worshipped on this day. Lamps are lit in the evening to welcome the goddess.

There are various stories associated with Diwali. According to one of them, Lord Rama returned from 14 years exile to Ayodhya and people lit their houses and burst crackers to welcome him. Another story finds the origin of Diwali in the return of the Pandavas to Hastinapur after 13 years of exile.

Bengalis offer worship to Goddess Kali on Diwali day. According to mythology, once upon a time, two asuras, Sumbho and Nishumbho plagued the Earth and the Heaven. The gods prayed to Goddess Durga. In answer to their prayers, Kali was born from the forehead of Durga. She started slaying the asuras and her thirst for blood was aroused. She made a garland of the heads of dead asuras and wore it around her neck. Then she started slaying anyone who came in her way. To soothe her anger, Shiva (who is her husband) lay in her path. When she stepped on her husband in her fury, she stuck her tongue out in regret. Her fury ended at that moment and that is why she is portrayed with her tongue stuck out and her foot on Shiva.

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