For centuries, Hindus celebrate Diwali festival in India and abroad; but what is surprising is that for the last twenty years or so, this festival has garnered attention from foreigners. In 2006, members of Pakistan Muslim League celebrated Diwali in Islamabad. And last year, US Senate passed a resolution, in which the body has addressed Hindus, Sikhs and Jains and recognized religious and historical significance of Diwali. The festival sends a message of happiness, peace and prosperity to all and this has appealed to those who are citizens of the world.
Though the above two news items may well be brushed off as political gimmicks, this gesture explains that religious minority gets the feeling that they belong to that place. Moreover, this can be seen as a cultural exchange programme, wherein both - the natives and the emigrants - come close together and understand each other's religion, history & culture. Thus, Diwali has now become an international festival as it conveys wonderful message of removal of darkness from our life and progress towards brightness, which illuminates our soul & life.
Back in India, this festival is celebrated by every Indian, irrespective of their caste, community & religion. The spirit of unity & oneness is demonstrated with joie de vivre; every individual, government bodies, organizations, corporations, institutes welcome this festival of light in their own unique way. This is the moment when world sees real India and every true-blue Indian displays their Indianness. The five-day celebration fills our hearts with energy and happiness that last till the next Diwali.
This year, we wish every person on this globe a Happy Diwali and a Prosperous New Year. May God shower his blessings on you and may we live long, healthy and happy life together.
The Diwali festival in India has a deep significance since ancient times. According to the Vedic culture, the message of Deepavali festival is to eradicate the world from darkness and lead it towards the self - illuminated light within. Here, each individual is likened to a brightly lit clay lamp. The message is to collectively participate in the Endeavour, as it is not just the effort of one individual. The differences between the high and low are forgotten, as the aim is to usher in equanimity and equality in society.
Traditionally, the celebration of the Diwali festival in India is associated with a number of mythological events. In Northern India, Diwali is celebrated to rejoice the return of King Rama to his Kingdom Ayodhaya after a 14 year exile and victory over the demon king Ravana. The people of Ayodhaya light an array of clay lamps to celebrate his return.
In Southern India, another legend describes the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon Narakasura. In western India, it is celebrated in the honour of the King Bali, who went to rule the lowest world by the order of Lord Vishnu.
The Diwali festival in India has varied significance all over country and other parts of the world. During Diwali 2011, the festivities will be equally wide spread. In West Bengal, it is celebrated in honor of Goddess Durga. Particularly, in the north of India, Hindu merchants open their new books and pray to Goddess Laxmi for a joyful and prosperous new year. In most parts of India, people get up early before dawn on Diwali and pray to the Lord for their spiritual advancement.
Additionally, Diwali festival in India is celebrated over a period of five days in many parts of the country. These days include Dhanteras, Naraka Chaturdashi, Lakshmi Puja, Govardhana Puja, and Bhai Dooj. On Dhanteras, which actually means the thirteenth day of the lunar month, people purchase utensils and gold as it is considered an auspicious occasion. On Naraka Chaturdashi, people commemorate the slaying of the demon Narakasura as it was the 14th day on which the demon was killed.
On Laxmi Puja, people worship Goddess Laxmi, who is considered the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. Govardhan Puja is the worship of Lord Krishna, which is celebrated as the day on which Lord Krishna obtained victory over Lord Indra. In Gujarat, this day is also celebrated as the New Year, and the first day of the new Vikram Samavat. On Bhai Dooj, sisters meet brothers and vice versa and exchange presents and sweets to express their fondness and affection for each other.
Every one in the family gets up early in the morning and puts on new clothes. Especially on this day, children and parents alike burst crackers, make use of a variety of fireworks at night and light lamps to celebrate the occasion. It's a great joy to see crackers bursting and joyful people all around celebrating this festival with a lot of happiness and gaiety. On many occasions, even people of other faiths join together in celebrating this occasion as one.
On the occasion of Diwali 2011, people exchange a lot of gifts. Families and friends alike give and accept gifts like sweets, puja thalis, dry fruits, homemade chocolates, diyas, candles, wall hangings, decor items, gift hampers, jewellery, apparel, bhai dooj gifts and so on.
The business community celebrates the festival by exchanging Diwali corporate gifts, gift hampers, designer gift boxes, pen sets, diaries, watches, perfumes, mobiles, and the like.
Nowadays, many Indians have settled abroad in countries like the United Sates, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and other countries. Therefore, this Diwali festival is being celebrated by a lot of NRIs in the same graceful manner as it is celebrated on the home front.
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