Children

Lights and delights

The Golden Temple in Amritsar is lit up as Sikhs commemorate Bandi Chhor Divas.   | Photo Credit: AFP

After 14 long years of exile and a fierce battle with a demon king in a far-off land, it’s finally time for the prince to return home. This is the moment the people of the city have been waiting for. As he makes his way to the palace, flanked by his wife and brother, people cannot contain their joy. The streets come alive with happiness and lamps are lit in every house. According to legend, the tradition that began when Lord Rama, along with Sita and Lakshmana, returned home to Ayodhya after vanquishing Ravana continues till date. For, every year, on the darkest night of the Hindu month of Kartik, we remember Lord Rama’s triumphant return. Our homes are filled with light and our hearts with joy. The spirit of Deepavali reigns even today.

Grand and gorgeous

Happy Diwali Greeting Card made using sweets, or fire crackers or Diya or flowers, selective focus

Happy Diwali Greeting Card made using sweets, or fire crackers or Diya or flowers, selective focus  

One of the biggest and most resplendent festivals in India, Deepavali is an occasion that people look forward to for the whole year. Be it the sumptuous variety of sweets and treats, the radiant new clothes, the hiss and bang of firecrackers or the chance to spend quality time with family, there’s truly something for everyone. This year, the five-day festival begins on November 12, with the main celebration on November 14.

Be it the sumptuous variety of sweets and treats, the radiant new clothes, the hissing and banging of firecrackers or the chance to spend quality time with family, there’s truly something for everyone

Be it the sumptuous variety of sweets and treats, the radiant new clothes, the hissing and banging of firecrackers or the chance to spend quality time with family, there’s truly something for everyone   | Photo Credit: S. Subramanium

Besides the legend of Lord Rama, another popular Deepavali story is centred around Lord Krishna’s victory over Narakasura, a powerful demon king who terrorised everyone on Earth and Heaven, and even kidnapped 16,000 women. To put an end to his atrocious exploits, Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama waged a ferocious battle and defeated him. This is celebrated as Naraka Chaturdasi, the day before Deepavali. Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, is also worshipped during the festival.

Five days of cheer

The first day is Dhanteras, when it is considered auspicious to purchase something precious

The first day is Dhanteras, when it is considered auspicious to purchase something precious   | Photo Credit: M. Periasamy

Every day of Deepavali is significant in its own way. The first day is Dhanteras, when it is considered auspicious to purchase something precious. The second day is Naraka Chaturdashi or Choti Diwali, time to bring out the lamps and draw rangolis. This is the main festival day in parts of South India.

Be it the sumptuous variety of sweets and treats, the radiant new clothes, the hissing and banging of firecrackers or the chance to spend quality time with family, there’s truly something for everyone

Be it the sumptuous variety of sweets and treats, the radiant new clothes, the hissing and banging of firecrackers or the chance to spend quality time with family, there’s truly something for everyone   | Photo Credit: G. Moorthy

The third day is the main festival in other parts of the country. People wear new clothes, light lamps, eat sweets, exchange gifts, burst crackers, and generally have a lot of fun. While the fourth day is the first day of the new year in the Hindu calendar and also marks Govardhan Pooja; the fifth day, Bhai Dooj, celebrates the bond between siblings.

One festival, many meanings

For Jains, Deepavali commemorates the day Mahavir attained enlightenment. For Sikhs, it marks the day Guru Hargobind returned to Amritsar after being released from prison. Newar Buddhists celebrate by worshipping Goddess Lakshmi. In Malaysia, the festival is called ‘Hari Diwali’ and, in Nepal, ‘Tihar’. Several other countries around the world also join in the festivities in their own way.

No matter how it is celebrated, the underlying theme of Deepavali is common: the victory of good over evil, of light over darkness, and of wisdom over ignorance.

This Deepavali, keep in mind that even while you make merry with friends and family, COVID-19 is still a threat. Wear a mask, wash your hands regularly, avoid crowds, maintain social distance and talk to your parents about how you can stay safe amid the celebrations.

Have a happy, safe and cheerful Deepavali!

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 9:26:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/lights-and-delights/article33047279.ece

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