Joy, light, sweets, color-this is Deepavali or Diwali. It occupies a special place among the Indian festivals. People forget their social, financial and other differences and happily mix with each other. From the word ‘deepa’ was born the word ‘Deepavali’, meaning-sparkling row of lights. This festival which has been celebrated from ancient times, usually falls between October and November on the New Moon Day.
Deepavali is said to have a mythological background which gives it a religious sacredness. The story goes this way. In olden days, there was a mighty demon called Narakasura. Through his powerful penance, he obtained a boon that he would not be killed by man or gods. He thus set up his supremacy over the whole universe. Power brought pride and Narakasura took pleasure in oppressing the gods and women in their heavenly home.
One day, Krishna and Satyabhama were traveling in their chariot. Narakasura appeared before them and a fierce fight followed. Knowing very well that the demon’s boon made him not affected by his (Krishna’s) weapons, Krishna made a false show of losing courage and fainted. This made Satyabhama angry. She took the bow and arrow in hand, released an arrow at the demon. Narakasura was killed. His death is celebrated all over India by bursting crackers, lighting lamps and other forms of joy.
Other incidents are there which make Deepavali day so special-Rama returned to Ayodhya after defeating the demons in a deadly battle. Har Gobind, the Guru of the Sikhs, got freedom from the Mughals and Swami Dayanand attained liberation on this day.
On Deepavali day, people’s hearts are filled with joy. They wake up early in the morning and after an oil-bath, wear new clothes. The women adorn themselves with bright, shining ornaments and perform Lakshmi Puja. Everyone bursts crackers and eats delightful, tasty sweets. Sweets, smiles and good wishes are exchanged among the elders, youth and children.