DEEPAWALI:

        Deepawali or the Festival of Lights is an important and popular festival celebrated throughout the country in one form or the other. It falls on the last day of the dark half of kartik (October-November). As a matter of  fact it is a five-day long festival, but the main celebrations take place on the day of Deepawali.

        Deepawali is associated with several legends. One myth says that on this auspicious day Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and good fortune roams about and visits the houses of people. Therefore, people tidy up  their homes, establishments and shops and decorate them lavishly to welcome the goddess. In the night she is worshipped with great devotion.

          It also commemorates the triumph of Lord Rama over Ravana, and Ramaís return to Ayodhya. It is also on this day that Krishna killed the demon Narkasura.

        A few days before the festival, the houses are whitewashed and completely cleaned. The courtyards, the gates and the place of worship are decorated with bandanvars, flowers, intricate coloured paperwork and at night every nook and corner of the house is illuminated with earthern lamps or candles, and fireworks are displayed till late midnight. On the day of Deepawali, people get up early in the morning, cleans their home and after the completion of daily chores, attire themselves in their best clothes and move around freely in the atmosphere of gaiety, mirth, greetings and festivity. Lots of sweets are prepared and exchanged along with greetings.

        On this occasion people ask for each otherís forgiveness for the wrongs done knowingly or unknowingly and mutual relations are reestablished and strengthened. Thus, all enmity is forgiven and forgotten and people embrace one another. At night, Lakshmi along with Ganesh is worshipped, old accounts are closed and new ones are opened. People throng the bazaars and streets during the night in order to watch and appreciate the illumination. Special shops and bazaars are also set up on this occasion, and there is brisk buying of sweets, utensils, clothes, jewellery, toys, etc. 

        Diwali also marks the advent of new season and the sowing of new crop-seeds. The new Vikrama Era begins on this day and account books are opened. The famous King Vikramaditya, after whom the era is named, was crowned on this day. People greet each other and distribute sweets. In Bengal, Kali is worshipped with great fervour and devotion on this day. The Jains celebrate Deepawali as a day of final liberation and moksha of Lord Mahavira. Similarly Swami Dayanand Saraswati, the founder of the Arya Samaj, attained salvation on this day. The great Swami Rama Tirtha also entered his final jal-samadhi on this tithi. At great Jaina Shrines like that of Pavapuri in Bihar, and Girnar in Gujarat, special puja festivals are held, sacred  scriptures read and recited and Lord Mahavira worshipped. Thus, this great festival of lights symbolizes manís urge to move towards light of truth from darkness of ignorance and unhappiness.