Diwali: the festival of lights

Diwali or Deepavali is a 5 day Hindu festival of lights. It is the most celebrated festival of India. It is a symbol of victory of good over evil, light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair.
Known to be the festival to celebrate the return of Hindu King Ram (incarnation of God Vishnu), his wife Sita and brother Laxmana back from a 14 year exile after defeating the demon king Ravana (from the Ramayana).
Day 1 Dhanteras/ Dhanatrayodashi: The official beginning of the Diwali festivities.
Day 2 Choti Diwali or Narak Chaturdasi: On this day, people take the “first bath”
Day 3 Laxmi Puja: The third day of these festivities is the actual Diwali/ Deepawali, when Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped, along with Lord Ganesha in the evening past sunset. People light diyas and lanterns in their homes, and the streets all across India light up with millions of sparklers, crackers and light strings.
Day 4 Padwa/ New Year/ Annakut: This day marks the new calendar year in Western India. It is celebrated as as Govardhan puja in the north. This day is also called Annakut.
Day 5 Bhai dooj/ Bhau beej: Brothers visit their sisters on this day and sisters welcome them with sweets and wish them a long, happy, healthy life.

Growing up, Diwali for me was a time when we got to eat a lot of different sweets, meet with cousins and friends and make Rangoli every morning with with my mother. It was also a week full of the smell of orange marigold flowers and mango leaves as we stringed together the garlands to be put on the front door of the house. The smell of sandalwood with which we were made to bathe. I remember the beautiful light from the plate full of diyas that made every face look special. It was a time when adults and children enjoyed the fireworks together. Our grandfather would take us shopping for the fireworks and then come burst them with us. Diwali was the time when our house seemed like new. This festival holds a special place in my heart. How do you celebrate Diwali?



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