Diwali: The festival of Lights
Diwali is the brightest of all Hindu festivals. It is regarded as the festival of lights which illumines the nation with its radiance, and dazzles all with its delight.
Origin of Diwali
There are different legends pointing to the origin of Diwali. Some deem it to be the gala of the marriage of Lord Vishnu with goddess Lakshmi. While in Bengal state the festival is dedicated to the worship of Mother Kali, the goddess of strength.
Lord Ganesha, the symbol of wisdom and auspiciousness, is also worshiped by most Hindus. In Jainism, Diwali has an added significance to the enormous event of Lord Mahavira accomplishing the perpetual ecstasy of nirvana. Diwali also memorializes the return of Lord Rama together with Sita & Lakshman from his 14 year long exile & vanquishing the demon king Ravana. In blissful festivity of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya, enlightened the kingdom with diyas & burst crackers.
Days of festivity
Each day of Diwali has its own tale to acquaint with. The 1st day of the festival is recognized as Naraka Chaturdasi. It marks the annihilating of the demon Naraka by Lord Krishna & his wife Satyabhama. The second day of Diwali is Amavasya. It marks the worship of Goddess Lakshmi. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth in her most generous mood, fulfilling the wishes of her followers. Amavasya also signifies the story of Lord Vishnu, who in his dwarf embodiment vanquished Bali, and expelled him to hell. Bali was permitted to revisit the earth once a year, to glow millions of lamps to chase away the darkness & ignorance, and spread the vivacity of wisdom and love. It is on the 3rd day of Diwali, Kartika Shudda Padyami that Bali steps out of hell & rules the earth in keeping with the boon given by Lord Vishnu. The 4th day is referred to as Yama Dvitiya or Bhai Dooj. On this day, sisters invite their brothers to their houses.
Significance of Firecrackers and Light
All the simple ceremonies of Diwali have significance & a story to put in the picture. The lighting of homes with lights & the skies with fire - crackers is an expression of curtsy to the heavens for the achievement of wealth, health, peace, knowledge & prosperity. It is believed that the sound of fire - crackers are the sign of joy of the people living on earth, making gods sentient of their plentiful state.