Originating from the Sanskrit word ‘Deepavali’, it literally means rows (Avali) of lights (Deepa). This festival of lights is celebrated on the darkest night (Amavasya) of Kartik month in the Indian calendar, and it symbolizes the vanquishing of ignorance (darkness) by the knowledge (light).
Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar explains the reason of playing with fireworks on Diwali. Whatever negativity – anger, jealousy or fear, has been accumulated in your mind in the last one year should get blasted in the form of all the crackers. With each cracker, burst any negativity you may have for any person, or at the most write name of that person on the cracker and burst it, and just know that all ill feelings, jealousy etc, has got burnt. But what do we do? Instead of finishing the negativity, either we wish that person to get finished or burn ourselves in that fire of negativity. It should be the other way around. Thinking all the negativity or ill feelings have gone out with those crackers, become friendly with that person again. There is a feeling of lightness, love, peace and happiness, and then go and have sweets with that person and celebrate Diwali. This is only true Diwali, by bursting crackers burn the bad qualities of that person NOT the person! (Laughter)
On the day people perform devotional practices and puja in honour of various Divine energies, esp, Goddess Laxmi – The Goddess of Wealth. Having significance in victory of good over evil in many Eastern religions, the lamps are lit at night. Also at some places the belief goes that lamps are lit all night in reverence to the Lord Yama – the God of Death and hence also known as ‘Yamadeepdaan’. This is supposed to take away the fear of an untimely death.
On this very auspicious day, many saints and great people have taken Samadhi and left their mortal bodies. The great seers include Lord Krishna and Bhagwan Mahavir. This is also the very day when Lord Rama returned home with Sita and Lakshman after 14 years in exile. On this day the Sikhs commemorate the return of the Sri Guru Gobind Singh from captivity in the Gwalior Fort.
One very interesting story about this time of the year is from Kathopanishad of a small boy called Nachiketa who believed that Yama, the god of Death was as black as the dark night of Amavasya. But when he met the Yama in person, he was puzzled seeing Yama's calm countenance and dignified stature. Yama explained to Nachiketa that only by passing through the darkness of death, man sees the light of the highest wisdom and his soul can escape from the bondage of his body to become one with the Divine. Nachiketa, then, realized the importance of worldly life and significance of death. With all his doubts set at rest, he whole-heartedly participated in the Diwali celebrations.
Hence various glorious events in different ages have taken place at this time of the year.
This Diwali let us pray and feel grateful – let there be prosperity in every corner of the world – let all people experience love, joy and abundance in their lives.