Most of us enjoy the Diwali celebrations without knowing the actual spiritual significance of this festival of lights. If you ask anyone, why we celebrate Diwali, you will get vague answers. They might tell you that we light lamps or diyas on Diwali or burst fire crackers on Diwali.
Actually speaking, there are many reasons for which Diwali is one of the few pan-Indian festivals. Almost all of India celebrates Diwali but their myths and rituals for this festival are different. Here are few reason of why we celebrate Diwali:
1. Ram Returns To Ayodhya: In most of Northern India, Diwali celebrations mark the triumphant return of Lord Ram to his homeland Ayodhya. The people of Ayodhya welcomed their just and victorious king by lighting diyas on Diwali.
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2. Lakshmi Puja: The most important rite of Diwali is the Lakshmi and Ganesh puja. This puja is done on the darkest night of the year, that is the no moon day of Ashwin maas (a month of the lunar calendar). The house is cleaned thoroughly, rangolis are drawn and diyas lighted. Lakshmi Puja is done at night amidst diyas.
3. The New Year: For Indian businessmen, Diwali is the starting of the new financial year. They close their books for the last year and begin new books on this day. Many people renovate and paint their houses before Diwali because it is marked as the beginning of Hindu new year.
4. Kali Puja: In Bengal, Odisha and some parts of Bihar, Mahakali or Nishi puja is celebrated on the night of Diwali. This is supposed to be the day on which, Parvati took her Kali avatar and started chopping of the heads of asuras. Kali puja starts late at night and is concluded in the wee hours of the morning.
5. Guru Nanak: Not only Hindus but Sikhs too celebrate Diwali. This is because, on this day Guru Hargobind Ji, the sixth guru of the Sikhs was released from prison along with 62 Hindu kings. After his release from incarceration, he payed a visit to Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib). All the people of Amritsar welcomed him by lighting candles and lamps.
6. Lord Mahavira: Many people believe that Lord Mahavira attained his moksha or nirvana on the 15th of October which is roughly the time around which Diwali is celebrated.
7. The Light Of Hope: A deeper spiritual meaning of Diwali comes from the fact that it is the darkest night of the year. So, to dispel the darkness of ignorance and hopelessness, people light diyas on Diwali. They also burst fire crackers to ward off evil spirits.
These are some of the deep seated spiritual reasons behind the bright Diwali celebrations. Do you celebrate Diwali for any other reason?