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Happy Diwali! What You Should Know About India's Festival of Light

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For the next several days India will be alight with candles and fireworks, people giving gifts, and celebrating with family and friends. It is the return of the festival of Diwali or Deepwali, the biggest and brightest of all Hindu festivals celebrated in India. It's the festival of lights (deep = light and avali = a row i.e., a row of lights), marked by five days of celebration, which literally illuminates the country with candles and fireworks.

During Diwali, lights illuminate every corner of India and the scent of incense sticks hangs in the air, mingled with the sounds of firecrackers, joy, togetherness, and hope. The light empowers Hindus to commit themselves to good deeds, thus bringing them closer to divinity. Friends, families, and colleagues with also share Diwali gifts, as a gesture love and affection. 

Each of the rituals of Diwali have a significance and a story to tell. The illumination of homes with lights and the skies with fireworks is an expression of adoration to the heavens for the attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace, and prosperity. According to one belief, the sound of firecrackers is an indication of the joy of the people living on earth, making the gods aware they are happy and healthy.  

With India being such a culturally diverse country there are many different ways to celerate Diwali; from fireworks in Mumbai to floating thousands of earthen diyas (oil lamps) down the Ganges in Varanasi, from buring a demon effigy in Goa to watching the Golden Temple is draped with lights in Amritsar. Everyone celebrates it in one way or the other, but the significance of Diwali remains the same.

Historically, the origin of Diwali can be traced back to ancient India, when it was likely a harvest festival. Some believe it to be the celebration of the marriage of Lakshmi with Lord Vishnu. Diwali also commemorates the return of Lord Rama along with Sita and Lakshman from his fourteen-year-long exile and vanquishing the demon-king Ravana. In joyous celebration of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya, the Capital of Rama, illuminated the kingdom with earthen diyas and set off noisemakers.

No celebration in India is complete without invoking Lord Ganesha, God of intelligence, and Diwali is no exception. Lord Ganesha is seen as the remover of all obstacles, thus he is worshipped first to get rid of all the obstacles that hinder growth. It is said that on night of Diwali, Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth, visits each house and blesses everyone with great wealth and prosperity. People worship these two deities together to welcome wealth along with intelligence.

Interested in in celebrating Diwali in India? Check out our India itineraries and private departures are available on request.

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