Deepavali is called the Festival of Lights and is celebrated to honor Rama-chandra, the seventh avatar (incarnation of the god Vishnu). It is believed that on this day Rama returned to his people after 14 years of exile during which he fought and won a battle against the demons and the demon king, Ravana.
This festival is celebrated exactly 20 days after the celebration of Dusshera, another major Hindu festival. On this day of Deepavali, Goddess for wealth and prosperity is worshipped. People illuminate their houses and streets with lights and earthen lamps to lighten up the night. ‘Deep’ meaning earthen lamps justifies the sacredness of the festival.
The lamps are said to ward off the evil forces and signifies the triumph of the good over evil power. Even the poorest of homes light some lamps to celebrate this day. People light firecrackers which add to the light and color of the night. Beautiful multi colored Rangoli and floral decorations beautify the houses. The glamour and shimmer all around the country fulfills the significance of the festival.
This festival is celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. The festival, which coincides with the Hindu New Year, celebrates new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness.
For many Indians this five day festival honours Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Lamps are lit to help Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, find her way into people’s homes.
Southern India celebrates it as the day that Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura.
Deepavali is not only celebrated by Hindus. The festival is also a sacred occasion for Jains and Sikhs. In Jainism, the holiday marks the attainment of moksha (or release from the cycle of samsara — meaning life, death, and rebirth) by its founder, Mahavira, who preached nonviolence and compassion.