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Diwali: Time for gifts, crackers and party...
Diwali- the festival of lights is an occasion of joy, greetings and goodwill. It is the most important Hindu festival and is celebrated with utmost pomp and show. Diwali festivities are accompanied by sweets, gifts and shoppingÂ…

DIWALI OR DEEPAWALI is the most vibrant festival of India. It is an occasion which is a reminder of Lord Rama’s return to Ayodhya after completing 14 years in exile along with his wife Sita and brother Laxman. Diwali falls twenty days after Dussehra when Lord Rama defeated Ravana, the evil king of Lanka who had abducted Sita. It is believed that the people of Ayodhya welcomed the trio by lighting oil lamps throughout the empire and distributed sweets.

There is a lot of feasting and merrymaking on Diwali throughout the Indian subcontinent. People from various religions come together and celebrate the festival. Children burn crackers and people throw parties and the Diwali extravaganza stretches into the dark hours of the night.

Diwali is a five day celebration with the third day being celebrated as Diwali or Deepawali. Laxmi Puja is performed at night to seek the divine blessings of the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. People meet friends and relatives on Diwali and exchange presents. Gambling takes place in the wee hours of the night as it is a firm belief that the year ahead will be a prosperous one for those who win on this night.

Over the years, Diwali has been celebrated with great enthusiasm. With time, trends have changed. But what hasn’t changed is the popularity of firecrackers that add to the excitement of the festival. Both children and adults look forward to bursting crackers on Diwali. People spend huge amounts on firecrackers every year ranging from rockets, bombs and wheels to anars, phuljharis and hunters. Despite the anti-cracker campaigns, people seem to indulge in the festivities in full swing.

Mayank Mehta, Project Leader in an MNC says, “I think buying crackers is a sheer waste of money. People are busy blowing their hard earned money on crackers that cause air and noise pollution and various other respiratory problems. The money can be utilized for something else. On the one hand we talk about global warming and on the other we initiate environmental destruction. Who do we think we are kidding? We must incorporate the ideals of global concerns in our children and discourage them from burning crackers.”

Anjum Dhar, volunteer with a Delhi based NGO says, “We must celebrate Diwali with the spirit of goodwill. There are thousands of children who are exploited each year in fireworks industries and fall prey to several diseases. We must discourage fireworks on Diwali and act as responsible citizens. By allowing our children to burn crackers we are exposing them to a lot of harmful diseases as well as dangers. We must inculcate the right values at the right time.”

Amrita, is working with Katha, a non-profit organization set up for the children of the slums of Govindpuri in New Delhi.  She says, “Katha becomes the hub of activity as children begin making candles, diyas and cards for Diwali. These are then sold at various stalls and melas all over the city and the money generated is given to these kids.”

Neha Aneja, corporate communications manager from Gurgaon says, “I am organizing a card party on the occasion of Diwali. People believe that it is auspicious to gamble o the night of Diwali as it brings them good luck. I have also organized a small music and dance program and the theme is ethnic, which means that all my guests will have to come dressed in something traditional. The house will be decorated with oil lamps and candles with glitter sprinkled all over the floor and tables. There will be marigold garlands and floating candles spread out in blows at different places.”

Manju Nath, housewife says, “I will be teaching my children how to make a Rangoli and then we will light diyas and go to the stadium in the evening to watch a display of fireworks.”

Kirat Dhingra, student says,” I am very excited that Diwali is approaching. I have already started bursting crackers with my friend in the evening. It is great fun.”

The onset of Diwali season also marks the season of marriages in India. People are busy shopping for Diwali and one of the most popular buys is jewellery and home appliances. Gold is considered to be auspicious and is gifted to close friends and relatives during the festive season. It is also gifted to girls during Indian weddings. One can find a number of discounts at this time of the year in every market. Shopping in India during the festive season is an experience in itself. The shops are beautifully lit and one can hear the sound of fireworks in the background while temple bells are tinkling in the distance.

Diwali is a festival of great rejoicing and feasting. Diwali melas are organized in several colonies where people put up lucky draw stalls, food stalls and even sell figurines of gods and goddesses. The principle deity for Diwali is that of Laxmi-Ganesh.

People might have undergone a tremendous change in lifestyle and incomes but the customs and traditions remain the same. Diwali revives the age old beliefs and values among people. They forget all grievances and embrace each other on this day. Diwali inspires us to catch up on the happiness we tend to overlook the rest of the year.



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