Diwali is a festival celebrated to mark the returning of Lord Ram to his home town Ayodhya after he got banished. His step-mother Kaikai had wanted Ram’s brother (Bharat) to become King of Ayodhya and therefore, she made a plan to send him to exile because she had two wishes. She ordered Ram to be banished to the forest for fourteen years and for Bharat to become King. Ram took his wife Sita and brother Laxman to the forest with him.
While they were in the forest, Sita got kidnapped by the evil demon Ravan. Ram constructed an army consisting of Hanuman – his loyal servant, Vibhishan – Ravan’s brother and various other people. He ultimately formed the ‘Ram Sena’ – Ram’s Army. Ram was victorious in defeating Ravan and he brought Sita back home. Upon their arrival, people lit divas (candles) so Ram, Sita and Laxman could see the path.
Now, Diwali is celebrated by lighting candles in houses. Candles are lit at doorsteps and also inside the house to welcome Ram. The festival of Diwali occurs over five days.
The festival of Diwali initiates on Dhan Teras. On this day, Goddess Laxmi is worshipped – who is a symbol for wealth. Following that, on Kali Chaudas, Shakti (meaning strength) is worshipped in the form of Kali – the goddess for strength. This is all done to abolish all evil in the world as the ultimate meaning of Diwali is Light over Darkness. After that, the day of Diwali comes; this is the main day where everyone goes to the Temple to pray. Families come together and celebrate. Fireworks are lit to signify the returning of Ram to Ayodhya. Also, Chopda Poojan (meaning prayer to books) occurs on Diwali where account books and business-related books are worshipped. Then, on New Year day, Ankoot (a feast) is served to God in the form of Prasad (Sacrament). Everyone takes the Prasadi and enjoys the rest of the day before Bhai Beej. On Bhai Beej, brothers go their sister’s house to have a meal. The brother then returns the favour of the meal by giving a gift – usually monetary or materialistic.
Diwali is an important festival for many Hindu’s as it’s a time where families come together and celebrate the moral story that is the heart to Diwali; the victory of light over darkness. Eesha Matharu celebrates Diwali as it ‘allows me to remember why our culture and tradition is so important”; ultimately, Diwali is about recognising the importance of our religion. She also described that Diwali has been celebrated by her family since she was younger but now “It’s not all about the fireworks and lights as I know the meaning – this makes me appreciate it more.
Celebrations of Diwali happen all around the world – in India, it is celebrated very grandly and with great grandeur. After all, Diwali is a traditional festival with a traditional background complete with traditional celebrations.