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Diwali: Festival of Lights
Deepawali or Diwali is certainly the biggest and the brightest of all Hindu festivals. It’s the festival of lights (deep = light and avali = a row i.e., a row of lights) that’s marked by four days of celebration, which literally illumines the country with its brilliance, and dazzles all with its joy. Each of the four days in the festival of Diwali is separated by a different tradition, but what remains true and constant is the celebration of life, its enjoyment and goodness.
The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance, although the actual legends that go with the festival are different in different parts of India:
• In northern India and elsewhere, Diwali celebrates Rama’s return from fourteen years of exile to Ayodhya after the defeat of Ravana and his subsequent coronation as king.
• In Gujarat, the festival honours Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.
• In Nepal Diwali commemorates the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon king Narakaasura.
• In Bengal, it is associated with the goddess Kali.