Diwali is round the corner, in fact the celebations have begun with the children, there are crackers being burst and the atmosphere is filled not only with the noise of the crackers but the resonance of the alarms and sirens from the parked cars in the housing societies.
My younger son who has suddenly become bold and adventurous to try his hands at the crackers by virtue of being inspired by his 'Big Bro'. Turning 5 for the younger one has been turning Bold too..... but I discovered something about him, this time he had the gun loaded with the a strip of crackers but before he fired them he asked his grandfather to cover his ears!!
I quietly ignored it, didn't want my boy to feel embarrassed, he was behaving so grown up you see! That night while I was putting him to sleep he asked me why was Diwali celebrated. I remember asking the same question to my mom when I was young and she told me a couple of stories as the legend had it. I read about them during by school years. I was glad my son asked me this question. I told him 5-6 reasons but today talking to my friends found a few more and I wish to share them here. There are many reasons from mythology behind celebration of the festival of lights.
According to the epic Ramayana, it was the new moon day of Kartik when Lord Rama, his wife Sita and brother Lakshman returned to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana and conquering the kingdom of Lanka. The people of Ayodhya illuminated the city beautifully and decorated it with earthen lamps. This story is what most of the people know including my little one.
According to the epic Mahabharata, it was Kartik Amavashya when the Pandavas were back from their 12 years of banishment that was awarded to them after Kauravas defeated them at the game of dice. The people of the kingdom, celebrated their return by lighting the earthen lamps or the diyas.
There are a couple of facts from the other religions such as Jainism, Sikhism, the Arya Samaj as well as there are some historic references of the festival.
Mahavir Tirthankar, the founder of modern Jainism attained his nirvana on this day.
Naraka Chaturdasi. Second day is celebrated as Naraka Chaturdasi or 'Chhoti Diwali', On this day Lord Krishna killed the demon Narakaasur and liberated the 16,000 women that he had held in his captivity.
The third day is celebrated as the actual Diwali or Badi Diwali the day is marked as the Hindu New Year. Goddess Laxmi is worshipped to receive blessings of wealth and prosperity. This is also the day Lord Rama, along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman returned to Ayodhya, defeating the demon King Ravana. It marks the triumph of good over evil, that of light over darkness.
Govardhana Puja, Fourth day is celebrated as a spiritual harvest festival. Thousands of years ago, Lord Krishna asked the people of Vrindavan to perform Govardhana Puja. On this day too lamps or diyas are lit.
The firth day is celebrated as Bhai Dooj - the festival of brothers and sisters. This marks the last day of the celebrations.
People generally visit family, relatives and friends and exchange gifts and sweets. Now the sweets are replaced with much healthier options like dry fruits and healthy nuts. This is also the time when there is a huge demand for sweets all over the country and adulteration is prevalent.
I have found a very healthy option to gift my family and friends, I have chosen natures' goodness over artificial sweets.
One great option I found for gifting during Diwali and the rest of the year is the natures' gift from Jammu and Kashmir. It has everything from almonds, walnuts, figs, raisins, saffron and other nuts and dried fruits. Loved their celebration pack for Diwali, a beautiful pack of dry fruits. They also have some fabulous skin care and beauty products.Do check: http://www.puremart.in/