Dipawali is the festival of light. Dipawali is a Sanskrit word, which consists of two words “dip” and “awali” meaning ‘lamp’ and ‘series’ or ‘row’ respectively. Hence, Dipawali means a row of burning lamps. Dipawali is also celebrated as Diwali, Bandi Chhor Diwas, or Kali Puja.
According to Harivamsa Purana, Diwali relates with “dipalikya” meaning ‘light leaving the body’ or ‘splendiferous light of lamp.’ This festival is celebrated across all over the world by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists with diya (earthen lamp) lighting, home decorations, shopping, fireworks, puja (worship or prayer), gifts, performing rituals, feasting and sweets.
Diwali is a five-day celebration. These five days includes Dhanteras, Naraka Chaturdashi, Diwali, Govardhan Puja and Bhai Dooj. These five days are regarded as the observation and celebration of life. The occasion is used to gather with family and pray for health, prosperity, wealth and good fortune.
For different people, belonging to different religions and communities, Diwali means different things. Some celebrate on the account of the return of Lord Ram from 14 years of exile and his victory over Ravana. Others worship Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi.
For the Sikhs, Diwali is Bandi Chhor Diwas. This celebration is a Sikh historic event related to the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind. According to Sikh history, on this day, Guru Hargobind was released from prison by Mughal emperor Jahangir.
For the Jain community, Diwali has a very special significance. It is observed as the mark of the anniversary of nirvana (final release) or liberation of Mahavir’s soul. For the Buddhists, Diwali is an auspicious day as this is the day emperor Ashoka renounce and adopted the path of peace.
Diwali is a festival of joy and social amicability. While celebrating this festival, the real socio-cultural message must be kept in mind so that an environment of friendship, brotherhood and well-being is recovered, otherwise there is no meaning of celebrating this festival.
Nowadays, Diwali has become a source of pollution. Increasing use of firecrackers creates health hazards and increases air and noise pollution. Harmful ingredients such as sulphur and lead are used in its manufacture, and when burnt, it spreads toxic gases like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, causing health problems, especially for persons already suffering from conditions like asthma.
If not properly attended to, children get injured as sparks fly into their eyes and nose. The Health Minister of India has promoted the concept of green Diwali, i.e. the manufacture and use of such crackers which emit the least toxic gases.
Happy Diwali! Play safe and be safe.
Note: this article was first published here.