Diwali - The Festival of Lights in India

Diwali is an Indian festival of lights and is one of the most important family celebrations. It takes place between October and November and lasts for five days. Homes get cleaned. People decorate the houses with lights and oil lamps. During Diwali, Indians worship Lakshmi the goddess of fertility.

In various parts of India, the festival gets celebrated with diverse customs. The different mythological references developed later with the passage of time. Depending on the region, it gets celebrated between one to five days. In Bengal, on Diwali, Kali Puja takes place.

The first day is Dhanteras, also called as Dhanvantari Trayodashi or Dhantrayodashi. On this day people clean up the houses and paint and decorate with various motifs. Oil lamps or candles are lit at sunset. People also buy new clothes and cooking utensils, including jewelry of gold or silver.

The second day of the festival is Choti Diwali. People get up before sunrise and take bath, with perfumed oil. Later they light oil lamps and decorates the house with particular kolams. They wear new clothes and visit neighbors with sweets and exchange gifts. Today, gifts cover products from chocolate candy or flowers, kitchenware, jewelry, multimedia devices. In the evening men light fireworks and explode firecrackers.

The third day also called as Badi Diwali. Lakshmi Puja takes place in Northern India and is the most important day of the festivities. Rangoli gets drawn on the ground with rice flour. Designs called Manora gets drawn on the walls. The leaves of the mango tree get arranged on a thread and hung on the doors.

The fourth day is Padwa. Wives swivel a thali with lights on the forehead of their husbands and then seek blessings for them.

The fifth and final day of Diwali is Bhau Beej, also Bhaiduj or Bhautika. Sisters apply tilak on the forehead of their brothers and seek blessings for them. The brother and sister promise to protect each other.

For Jains, it is reminiscent of the entry of Mahavira into Nirvana and Moksha. It is the celebration of life and an opportunity to strengthen ties with family and friends. It also represents the beginning of the Jain new year.

Diwali is also celebrated by Sikhs for three days in Amritsar. There is particular fervor in the Golden Temple on Bandi Chhor Diwas. People offer tribute to the ten spiritual gurus of Sikhism. The commemoration recalls some essential moments of the fight against the Mughal empire.

The historical traces of the pre-Vedic Diwali end up losing its way to a blind path. Once again, the inevitable Vedic priests condemned the more remote cults to oblivion. An epoch of this etymology came to light in the ancient English word giuli or yule. It was to define the winter period marked by the two months of November and December.

There was an abundant banquet with alcoholic drinks to celebrate with the community. And the act of drinking was a central moment of the party. In houses, this time lights sparkle around the trees or windows, and along the streets. The religious traditions are often characterized by the victory of good over evil.

Divalia is a celebration of Ancient Rome on 21 December in honor of Goddess Angerona. Angerona was the goddess of Winter Silence and the dying Sun. In parallel with her festival in other places, the goddesses Fortuna got worshipped.

During the festival, the pontiff performed sacrificial rites in the temple of Volupta. People hoped that this would divert all the suffering and worries of life.

Angerona had the task of not allowing the enemies to conquer it. She also presided over a delicate period of the year as it was the winter solstice. She had no special temples, but only a statue in the temple of the goddess Volupia.

Angitia and Angerona had its underground occult relationship. The Cerealia was the biggest Roman celebration dedicated to goddess Ceres. Ceres and Tellus (Mother Earth) are one of the goddesses of the fecundity of the earth. Both were goddesses of marriage since the main purpose of marriage was procreation. In this way, the brides, who were sterile, usually honored both.

The people of Campania knew from ancient times the divinity of Demeter, of Greek origin. She attracted the attention of a people producing cereals. This made the Roman goddess adopt all the characteristics and rituals of the Greek.

The ceremony included the memory of the myth of Ceres and Proserpina. The mother's search for the daughter got represented by the roaming of devotees in the city. They dressed in white while holding a torch. In the countryside, there was a procession around the fields. In the city, people threw and distributed nuts and chocolates.

Its archaic character indicates a ritual with torches lit and tied to the tails of foxes. The origin and purpose of this ritual are unknown. It may have had an intention to clean the crops. Or to protect them from diseases and pests, or to add warmth and vitality to their growth.

According to tradition, Ceres also protected wives. She got associated with both death and fertility, since the dead return to earth.

In Sweden, thousands of girls light up the long dark Swedish winter. They carry a candle lit in their hands and a crown of electric candles in their heads. They distribute gingerbread cookies to viewers.

In Holland, the festival of lights is in the middle of autumn when the trees are bare and dark early. Children after sunset go in procession, with lanterns of paper or cardboard. In front of each door, they stop singing some typical songs. In return, they receive gifts of candy and sweets.

Loi Krathong gets celebrated in Thailand in November. "Loy" means "floating" and a "Krathong" is a lotus-shaped vase made of banana leaves. The Krathong usually contains a candle, three incense sticks, flowers, and coins. The party begins at night when the full moon is in the sky. People carry their Krathongs along the river.

After lighting the candles and a prayer, people put the Krathongs in the water. They let them slide away, as a gift to the Goddess of the Waters. Krathongs take away the bad luck and that the wishes that people express for the New Year will come true.

The biggest festival of lights in China is the Chinese New Year taking place in late January. On that occasion, children receive new clothes, toys, and attend fabulous fireworks.

Mexicans celebrate the posada. Mexican families march home with candles lit looking for a "posada" that hosts them.