Whether in ancient civilizations or modern religions, light has been used as a ceremonial and religious symbol for centuries. In Hinduism, the Diwali or Deepawali festival emphasizes this. Known to the Western world as the Festival of Lights, this five-day festival is one of the most important of the year in India as it celebrates the triumph of good over evil.
Stacker used various sources to compile 20 images presenting the history and traditions of Diwali. Common practices include lighting lamps, exchanging gifts, and consuming sweets. For some it is a religious experience, but for others it is more spiritual and cultural. But more importantly, it’s a time to celebrate. There is no specific date related to the festival as the five days are centered around a new moon, but they always fall in October and November, with the third day (Lakshmi Pujan) representing the climax of the Diwali festival.
The relationships between people, animals, the environment and religion are illustrated during the time of year. Different rites and traditions focus on giving thanks and recognizing the connections people have in life. But the festival also has a big impact economic implications. Before the celebrations, people rush to buy gold and other goods, which in turn fuel many holiday-related industries.
Diwali also has effects on the environment, and the continued use of fireworks and sparklers during the holidays has polluted the Indian skies. Either way, there’s nothing stopping celebrating such a good time, and the holiday is unrelated to the region. People all over the world celebrate in different ways, whether it’s by lighting a single candle or going to a temple.
While the end of Diwali marks the start of a new year, the exact cause of the celebration varies slightly depending on the region in question. In North India, for example, the festival commemorates the return of Lord Rama to the kingdom of Ayodhya after defeating the wicked Ravana. In the Hindu epic “Ramayana”, Ravana kidnaps Lord Rama’s wife, Sita, but with the help of an army of monkeys, he saves her and returns to his kingdom. And in Bengal, the goddess Kali is worshiped, while in Nepal people celebrate Lord Krishna. And for others, the holiday is spent celebrating the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi.
Read on to learn more about the differences in traditions and stories of the ancient Diwali festival.
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