Deepawali or Diwali is certainly the biggest of all Hindu festivals. It’s also called the Festival of Lights, which literally illumines the landscape with its brilliance joy. Decorating and ornamenting homes with numerous trinkets and baubles like rangolis, candles, diyas, decorative lights and flower strings are used to embellish and enhance the décor.
From darkness unto light
In legends, myth and story of Deepawali lies the significance of the victory of good over evil. Diwali illuminates our homes and hearts. From darkness unto light — the light that empowers us to commit ourselves to good deeds, deeds those would bring us closer to divinity.
Historically, the origin the festival can be traced back to the ancient India, when it was probably an important harvest festival. There are various origins attributed to Diwali or Deepawali. Some hold that it celebrates the marriage of Goddess Lakshmi with Lord Vishnu. Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed God —symbol of auspiciousness and wisdom, is also worshiped in most Hindu homes on this day.
In Jainism, Deepawali has an added significance to the great event of Lord Mahavira attaining the eternal bliss of nirvana. In Bengal, the festival is dedicated to the worship of Kali. Also on this day, Lord Krishna killed the demon Narakasura. In South India, people take an oil bath in the morning regarded as purifying in the holy Ganga and wear new clothes. They partake of sweetmeats and light fireworks, which are regarded as the effigies of Narakasura who was killed on this day. Diwali also commemorates the return of Lord Rama along with Sita and Lakshman from their 14-year exile and vanquishing the demon-king Ravana. In joyous celebration of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya, the capital of Rama, illuminated the kingdom with diyas (oil lamps) and burst crackers.
Worshipping Of Cattle
In some villages, farmers worship cattle as they are the primary source of wealth and hence, considered to be equal to God. In south India, cows are worshipped on this day as they are regarded as the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi.
Significance of lights
Illumination of homes with lights and skies with firecrackers is an expression of obeisance to the heavens for the attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace and prosperity. It was a belief that the sound of firecrackers is an indication of the joy of the people living on earth, making the gods aware of their plentiful state, on the scientific basis it was believed that the fumes produced by the crackers kill a lot of insects and mosquitoes, found in plenty after the rains.
However, there’s a thin line between moderation and overdoing. With growing air and noise pollution levels, it’s important for us to observe restraint and poise to make sure that we are as eco-friendly in our celebrations as we possibly can be.
Diwali is such a beautiful fest because people across the cities décor their homes and offices as part of the celebration. Diwali means adding on the bright colors to your home. Diwali is adding lights to your home. Diwali is making your home look beautiful, rich, traditional, and attractive.
The major Diwali celebrations is for five days –
First Day (Dhanteras)
On the first day, popularly known as Dhanteras, people offer prayers to goddess Lakshmi to bring wealth prosperity to the households.
Second Day (Chhoti Diwali)
The second day of Diwali is known by the name ‘Chhoti Diwali’ (small Diwali). This day is also known as ‘Naraka Chaturdashi’ or ‘Kali Chaudas’ in some states. It is believed that it was on this day that Lord Krishna killed the evil demon Narakasura. On this day, people offer prayers to Lord Krishna, Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Rama.
Third Day (Diwali)
It is on the third day that the actual Diwali is celebrated. On this day, people visit temples and offer Lakshmi puja and Ganesh puja at home. People perform aarti to the deities with oil or ghee lamps placed on a ‘puja thali’ accompanied by Aarti songs. On the night of Diwali, people decorate their houses with diyas (ghee/oil lamps) along with fairy lights and lanterns. People also burst crackers at night.
The fourth day of Diwali is known for Govardhan Puja or Annakoot. It is believed that it was on this day that lord Krishna defeated Lord Indra, the god of rains. The legend says that Lord Krishna lifted Mount Govardhana to save lives of the people. To honour the day, people arrange food in the shape of mountain. Another legend, which is popular in South India, says that it is on this day Lord Vishnu pushed the demon king Bali down to the ‘patal lok’ (netherworld).
The fifth and the final day of Diwali is ‘Bhaiduj’ or Bhai Dooj. Also known by the name’Yama Dwitiya’, this day belongs to brothers and sisters, who strengthen their bond through prayers and exchanging gifts. This tradition is followed honouring Yami who offered prayers for Yama, her brother, for his happiness. In return, brothers give away small presents to their sisters.
Light it up
Diwali illuminations with lighted diyas bring brightness and joy with the hope of finding light in darkness, achieving knowledge where there is ignorance, and spreading love. Light is significant in Hinduism because it signifies goodness. Hence, during the Festival of Lights, deeps or oil lamps, are burned throughout the day and into the night to ward off darkness and evil. Until a decade ago, most city households would illuminate their houses with warm, sparkling bright earthen lamps. But now, in addition to these diyas, wax candles of various colours and forms, colored electric bulbs of different shapes and sizes have appeared on the scene.
Those who have a fancy for different types of earthen lamps can opt for handi lamps (earthen lamps shaped as handis or bowls). Some of these lamps have a designer touch with innovative designs glittering and sparkling on them. Then there are also the star-shaped earthen diyas that hold a large quantity of oil and five wicks in one lamp and are available at roadside stalls. Corners of rooms and puja rooms can be decorated and lighted up with brass, copper or metal lamps.
Candles also offer a wide choice. There are the regular rod-shaped candles available in small, medium and large sizes at all roadside kiosks and shops. For those looking for designer candles, there are flower-shaped and heart-shaped floating candles in soft hues. These scented candles, when placed in glass bowls filled with water, will float and burn for about two-and-a-half hours. Besides that markets are also flooded collection of glass gel candles that burn for days together and are drip-free.
Among these knick-knacks and Diwali accessories is the quintessential presence of the evergreen decorative bibelots that are string-lights. String lights, too, are the must-have elements of the Diwali season. Apart from the festive decoration, they are great to play around and experiment with interiors because not only are they cost-effective, but also readily available and can be used in numerous ways. Along with being the forever festive-festoons, string lights are so versatile in usage and thus can be put up tremendously to zing up any space.
Diwali is regarded as an auspicious occasion to give and receive gifts, which make shopping part and parcel of this festival. People indulge in shopping, buying clothes or other accessories for other family members based on their shopping. Diwali is also considered auspicious to buy gold.
Conceived as a Sanskrit word, ‘rangoli’ refers to expressing art and creatively using colour. During Diwali, people clean the houses and decorate the courtyards, walls and entrances with hangings, torans and colourful rangolis, to welcome Goddess Lakshmi.
Torans or wall hangings are also a great traditional home decor, perfect to be used on this festive occasion. Toransare usually used to decorate the entrance at the door. There are different designs of torans adorned with bells, beads, and mirrors which can add great sparkle to the entire decor. Images of Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesh are also hung on the wall. These wall hangings come with ethnic embroidery work and designsthat add a traditionalcharm to your decorations.
Flowers are the best decorative, both for interiors and exteriors. Pick garlands of colorful flowers like rose, marigold, jasmine etc. and fix them along your stair handles to create a festive ambience. You may also use string of lights combined with flowers to add to the elegance of your Diwali decorations.
Decorating home can often be tedious but the joy of the festival takes away all the tiredness and makes this the memorable moments of your life. So, on this Diwali, decorate your home with your friends and family using the above mentioned ideas and welcome goddess Lakshmi.