diwali

The festival of lights, Diwali is celebrated all across India and several other countries with a good population of Indians. It is a religious festival having significance in Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism. It is one of the most important festivals of India and is celebrated with full enthusiasm and eagerness. Throughout the year, people prepare to welcome this wonderful occasion and mark it by prayers, lighting diyas (oil lamps), burning firecrackers, exchanging gifts and wearing new clothes.

In Punjab, the festival of Diwali is the time for everyone to be happy and look forward to a bright year. Throughout the state and country, one can witness beautiful lighting and people enjoying to the fullest. Diwali is among the most awaited festivals in Punjab and also marks the beginning of winters and sowing of new crops.

Diwali is mainly celebrated to mark the homecoming of Lord Rama after 14 years of exile. People also worship goddess Lakshmi the goddess of wealth on Diwali.

Diwali is celebrated by Sikhs after Bandi Chor Divas. The Bandi Chor Divas signifies the release of Guru Hargobind Ji, the sixth Guru from prison. Along with him, 52 kings were also released from the Gwalior fort. The guru reached Amritsar on Diwali hence making it a double celebration for the Sikhs.

The festival also marks the martyrdom of Bhai Mani Singh, the reader and keeper of the Guru Granth Sahib at the Golden Temple. Diwali became the second most important festival to be celebrated in Punjab as this was the day when Guru Gobind Singh established Khalsa. The celebration of Diwali signifies the victory of right over wrong and also lifting of divine darkness.

The celebrations of Diwali commence almost 20 days before the main celebration. People start by cleaning their houses and painting their houses. Shopping for new clothes, traditional diyas, idols of Lord Ganesh and Goddess Lakshmi begin prior to the actual celebrations.

The festival of Diwali is celebrated over five days in Punjab. On the first day of the celebration, people observe the occasion of Dhanteras where they pray to Goddess Lakshmi for the well-being of their wealth. The second day marks the Choti Diwali and Roop Chaturdashi. The third day marks the Lakshmi Poojan and Bandi Chor Divas. The fifth day is celebrated as Bhai Dhooj.

On the day of Diwali, which is the third day of celebration people make rangolis (patterns made from coloured powder and flowers) in front of their houses. From evening people start their prayers and light oil lamps in the house and outside the house.

Women prepare traditional delicacies like gujias, dahi Baras, Gulab jamuns, pooris and several other items. Exchanging gifts, visiting relatives, getting blessings from elders are all parts of the celebrations of Diwali. Bursting firecrackers is the main attraction of Diwali. The skies are filled with various colours of crackers creating a beautiful scene.

Farmers decorate their cattle with different accessories and worship them. The cows are given special respect because they are thought to be an incarnation of goddess Lakshmi. The day of Diwali is also when winter crops are sown by farmers. The day after Diwali is celebrated as the Tikka day when sisters pray for the well-being of their brothers and place saffron tikkas on the forehead of their brothers.

Every city, town and village in Punjab celebrates the occasion with a lot of enthusiasm. Fairs are conducted across the state and are quite colourful. People can enjoy delicious foods, shop for various things and also enjoy various rides during these fairs.

During Diwali, the Golden Temple is decorated with lights and diyas. The image of the temple in the water is quite fascinating. People can be seen lighting traditional lamps, candles and praying at the gurudwaras.