The Diwali is a Hindu festival celebrated in India every year around October or November and is the most well known of all Hindu festivals. This year it extends over five days, from the 13th until the 17th November.
Diwali is a Sanskrit word and stands for “row of lamps” which indicates the character of the festival:houses, shops and public places are decorated with lots of oil lamps and the sky is lightened with fireworks. People are exchanging gifts and sweets and it is a time when people get their homes newly decorated and wear new clothes.
People celebrate the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. However, the legends which form the basis of the festival differ in the different parts of India.Many Indians, especially in Gujarat, celebrate Diwali to worship Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. The people turn on lights and leave their windows and doors open so that Lakshmi finds an easier way into people’s homes. The festival also celebrates the legend of Rama and Sita who returned to Rama’s kingdom after fourteen years of exile.
The Indian Times described today’s meaning of the Diwali:
‘Regardless of the mythological explanation one prefers, what the festival of lights really stands for today is a reaffirmation of hope, a renewed commitment to friendship and goodwill, and a religiously sanctioned celebration of the simple - and some not so simple - joys of life.’
Diwali is a public holiday in India and thus even affects Indian business life. The festival is often used as the start of a new financial year because of the connection with the goddess of wealth.
The festival is also popular in the UK. Leicester and London are offering celebrations of the Diwali to everyone. For many people in the UK the festival is the time to spring-clean their houses, buy and exchange gifts and decorate buildings with lights.
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