What Does Diwali Symbolize? Understanding the Significance of India’s Festival of Lights

Diwali, also known as the “Festival of Lights” is one of the most widely celebrated festivals in India. This five-day-long festival signifies the return of Lord Rama after he defeated the demon king Ravana and restored order to the universe. In modern times, it is an occasion for people to come together with their families and friends, light up their homes with beautiful diyas or oil lamps, and exchange gifts and sweets.

Diwali holds a significant cultural and religious significance in India as well as global communities of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists. Each community has its unique interpretation of the festival, but common themes include the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance. The lighting of diyas is a symbolic representation of driving away the darkness and welcoming positivity and prosperity into our lives. Diwali also marks the beginning of a new business year as many people make significant purchases and investments during this time.

As a multi-faceted festival, Diwali means different things to different people. Some associate it with delicious food, stunning light displays and bursting firecrackers. Others see the religious and cultural significance of the holiday as the most important aspect. No matter how it is celebrated, Diwali remains a beautiful tribute to the enduring values of hope, love, and life.

The History of Diwali

Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a major holiday celebrated by millions of people worldwide. The holiday signifies the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance. The festival originated in ancient India, and there are several interpretations of its history. Here’s a brief overview:

  • According to some accounts, Diwali is connected to the Hindu epic Ramayana. The story goes that Rama, the protagonist, was exiled from his kingdom for 14 years by his father’s second wife. During the exile, Rama’s wife Sita was kidnapped by the demon king Ravana. Rama, with the help of the monkey god Hanuman, rescued Sita and defeated Ravana. When Rama and Sita returned to their kingdom, people welcomed them by lighting diyas (clay lamps) to guide them home.
  • Another interpretation links Diwali to the legend of Krishna. Krishna, a Hindu deity, killed the demon Narakasura and freed thousands of imprisoned women. The villagers lit diyas to welcome Krishna’s return.
  • Some historians believe that Diwali originated as a harvest festival. The lamps honored and thanked the gods for a bountiful crop, and the fireworks were used to scare away insects that could damage the crops.

Regardless of its origin, Diwali has evolved into a grand celebration of light, love, and prosperity. The holiday usually falls in October or November, and it lasts for five days. During this time, people decorate their homes with lights, wear new clothes, exchange gifts, and share sweets with friends and family.

Religious Significance of Diwali

Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is a significant Hindu festival that celebrates the triumph of good over evil. The festival is celebrated over a period of five days and is marked by the lighting of lamps and fireworks, the exchange of sweets and gifts, and the decoration of homes with rangolis and other traditional decorations.

The Number 2 in Religious Significance of Diwali

  • The festival of Diwali is associated with the worship of various Hindu deities, and the number two plays a significant role in this worship. The festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the Hindu month of Kartik, which is also known as the darkest night of the year. The lighting of lamps and candles during Diwali symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness and the victory of good over evil.
  • Another tradition associated with Diwali is the worship of Goddess Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity. The worship of Lakshmi is usually performed on the third day of the festival, which is known as Diwali Puja. According to Hindu mythology, Lakshmi emerged from the ocean of milk during the churning of the cosmic ocean by the gods and demons. She is usually depicted as being accompanied by two elephants, symbolizing wisdom and strength.
  • In addition to Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Ganesha, the Hindu god of good fortune and wisdom, is also worshipped during Diwali. The worship of Ganesha is usually performed on the first day of the festival, which is known as Dhanteras. According to Hindu mythology, Ganesha is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, and is usually depicted with two or more hands, each holding a different object.

Other Religious Significance of Diwali

In addition to the worship of Hindu deities, Diwali also has other religious significance. For instance, the festival is also associated with the legend of Lord Rama, one of the most revered deities in Hinduism. According to the legend, Lord Rama returned to his kingdom of Ayodhya along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman after defeating the demon king Ravana. The people of Ayodhya welcomed him by lighting lamps and candles. This tradition continues to this day, with people lighting lamps and candles to celebrate the victory of good over evil.

Diwali is also associated with the legend of King Bali, a demon king who was defeated by Lord Vishnu. According to the legend, King Bali was granted a boon by Lord Vishnu that allowed him to rule the netherworld. However, Lord Vishnu later tricks King Bali and sends him to his rightful place in the underworld. This legend is often used to emphasize the importance of humility and righteousness, and to warn against the perils of greed and arrogance.

Rangolis and Decorations

Rangolis and other traditional decorations play an important role during Diwali. Rangoli is a traditional Indian art form in which patterns are created on the floor using colored powders, flowers, and other materials. These patterns are usually symmetrical and are meant to symbolize prosperity and good fortune. Other traditional decorations used during Diwali include diyas (traditional Indian lamps), candles, and colorful lights.

SymbolismMeaning
DiyasLight and illumination
CandlesHope and optimism
RangolisProsperity and good fortune
FlowersPurity and beauty

In conclusion, Diwali is a significant Hindu festival that celebrates the triumph of good over evil. The festival is associated with the worship of various Hindu deities, and the number two plays a significant role in this worship. In addition to the worship of deities, Diwali is also associated with various legends and traditions that emphasize the importance of humility, righteousness, and the triumph of good over evil.

The Five Days of Diwali

Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a five-day Hindu celebration that symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. The five days of Diwali are celebrated with different rituals and traditions, each holding their own significance and importance.

The Third Day: Diwali

The third day of Diwali, also known as the main Diwali day, is the most important and auspicious day of the festival. It is celebrated on the new moon day of the Hindu month Kartik, which falls between mid-October to mid-November. The day is marked by various rituals and customs.

  • Decorations: In preparation for Diwali, people adorn their homes with lights, candles, and colorful decorations.
  • Puja: The day starts with puja, a prayer ritual seeking blessings from the God of Wealth, Lakshmi, and Lord Ganesha.
  • Fireworks: Fireworks are a significant part of Diwali celebrations, and people light them to symbolize the driving away of evil spirits.

The main significance of Diwali is the triumph of good over evil. The festival celebrates the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Rama returned to his kingdom Ayodhya after fourteen years of exile and defeated Ravana, who had kidnapped his wife Sita. The day of Diwali marks the day when Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya with his wife and brother and was welcomed by his people with lights and celebrations.

RegionSignificance
PunjabIn Punjab, Diwali is known as Bandi Chhor Diwas and marks the release of Guru Hargobind Ji and 52 other kings from prison.
South IndiaIn South India, Diwali is celebrated to commemorate the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon king Narakasura.
West IndiaDiwali in West India signifies the day when Lord Vishnu defeated the demon king Bali and restored King Vikramaditya to his throne.

The third day of Diwali is a time for families and friends to come together, exchange gifts, and share sweets. It is a celebration of light and love, a time to let go of darkness and negativity and embrace positivity and hope.

The Mythological Story behind Diwali

Diwali, also known as the “Festival of Lights,” is one of the most prominent and widely celebrated festivals in India. It signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and wisdom over ignorance. The festival is celebrated over five days, during which time Hindus decorate their houses with lamps and candles, prepare delicious traditional sweets and dishes, and offer puja to the Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha.

The Story of Lord Rama and Sita

  • The festival of Diwali is associated with the famous Hindu epic, Ramayana, which tells the story of Lord Rama, his wife Sita, and their victory over the demon king Ravana.
  • Ramayana narrates the story of how Ravana kidnaps Lord Rama’s wife Sita and takes her to his kingdom in Sri Lanka. To rescue her, Lord Rama, along with his brother Lakshmana and the monkey army led by Hanuman, embarks on a long and perilous journey.
  • After reaching Lanka, Lord Rama fights and kills Ravana, and rescues Sita. They return to Ayodhya, Lord Rama’s kingdom, after an exile of 14 years, where the people of Ayodhya welcome them by lighting up lamps and candles.

The Story of Lord Krishna and Narakasura

Another popular story associated with Diwali is the story of Lord Krishna and Narakasura. It is believed that Narakasura, the king of Pragjyotishpur, was a tyrant who took great pleasure in tormenting his subjects. It is said that he had even snatched the earrings of Goddess Aditi, the mother of Lord Sun, and imprisoned 16,000 women.

Lord Krishna, along with his wife Satyabhama, fought Narakasura and defeated him, thereby freeing all the imprisoned women. As a tribute to this victory, the people of Dwaraka celebrated Diwali by lighting up lamps and fireworks.

Significance of the Number 4 during Diwali

The festival of Diwali is celebrated over five days, with each day having its own significance. However, the number 4 has a deep significance during Diwali.

DaySignificance
Day 1Dhanteras – Worship of Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Kubera for wealth and prosperity.
Day 2Narak Chaturdashi – Celebrating the victory of Lord Krishna over Narakasura.
Day 3Diwali – Traditionally celebrated as the day when Lord Rama returns to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana.
Day 4Govardhan Puja – Worship of Lord Krishna and Govardhan Hill to celebrate the victory of good over evil.
Day 5Bhai Dooj – Celebrating the bond of love between brothers and sisters.

Day 4, known as Govardhan Puja, is an important day during Diwali. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhan Hill on this day to protect the people of Vrindavan from the wrath of Lord Indra, who had sent a thunderstorm to destroy the village. This story signifies the importance of protecting the environment and celebrating nature.

Diwali Celebrations around the World

Diwali is a festival celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains all over the world. It is considered one of the most significant festivals of the year and has deep cultural and religious significance. In this article, we will explore the various ways in which Diwali is celebrated around the world.

Diwali Celebrations: Symbolizing the Victory of Good over Evil

Diwali symbolizes the triumph of good over evil and is celebrated in different ways in various parts of the world. The five-day festival is marked by intricate rangoli designs, lighting up homes with diyas, exchanging sweets and gifts, and finding joy in the company of loved ones. Here are some ways in which Diwali is celebrated in different parts of the world:

  • India: Being the birthplace of Diwali, India celebrates the festival with great fervor. The festival is celebrated with lighting diyas, rangolis, bursting crackers, and preparing traditional sweets. The festival also celebrates the homecoming of Lord Rama after years of exile and his victory over demon king Ravana.
  • Nepal: Nepal, another predominantly Hindu country, celebrates Diwali with Laxmi Puja, where families worship the goddess of wealth, Laxmi. The celebration is also known as the festival of lights and includes lighting diyas and decorating homes with rangolis.
  • Malaysia: The Malaysian version of Diwali features intricate kolam designs instead of rangolis. The festival is celebrated by the Hindu Tamil community in Malaysia and features prayers and feasting.

Diwali Celebrations: Diverse and Vibrant Around the World

Diwali celebrations are not restricted to Hindu countries alone. The festival is celebrated worldwide by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains. Here are some ways in which Diwali is celebrated around the world:

  • United States: The scale of Diwali celebrations in the US is on the rise. In New York City, the festival is marked with a Diwali parade, lighting up the Empire State building with the colors of the Indian flag, and various cultural events.
  • UK: Diwali in the UK is celebrated with great pomp and show. The festival is marked by community events such as concerts, cultural activities, and street fairs. The most loved event in the UK is the Diwali lights switch-on ceremony that takes place every year in Leicester.

Diwali Celebrations: Table of Traditional Sweets

The Diwali festival is incomplete without the preparation of traditional sweets for sharing with family and friends. Here’s a table listing some of the popular sweets made for Diwali celebrations:

Sweet NameIngredientsCountry of Origin
RasgullaCottage cheese balls soaked in syrupIndia
LadooSpherical-shaped sweets made with flour, sugar, nuts, and spicesIndia
JalebiCrispy, golden, and syrupy sweets made with flour and sugar syrupIndia/Pakistan

Diwali is a time for joy, happiness, and togetherness. Whether you’re celebrating in India or far away from home, the festival brings people together to celebrate the victory of good over evil.

Diwali Decorations and Rangoli Designs

Diwali, the festival of lights, is an occasion when every nook and corner of the house is lit up with diyas and lamps. The essence of Diwali lies in decorating the house with beautiful lamps and creating vibrant rangoli designs at the entrance.

  • Decorating with Lights: Diwali is celebrated during the darkest night of the year, and lighting up the house with diyas and lanterns is a way to welcome Lord Rama and Goddess Lakshmi, who are said to bring light and prosperity into our lives. Families also use electric lights, candles, and fairy lights to decorate the house.
  • Rangoli Designs: Rangoli is a traditional art form made on the floor with colored powders, flowers, rice, and other natural materials. During Diwali, families create rangoli designs at the entrance of their houses to welcome guests. Rangoli designs can range from simple geometric patterns to intricate designs of gods and goddesses.
  • Symbolism of Rangoli: In Hindu mythology, rangoli is said to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits. The colors used in rangoli designs are significant too – red symbolizes sensuality, yellow represents peace, green means harmony, white signifies purity, and blue is for divinity.

One of the most popular rangoli designs is the six-pointed star, also known as the shatkona or the Star of David. This design is made by drawing two triangles, one pointing upwards and the other downwards, and merging them. The six points of the star symbolize:

PointSymbolism
1Lord Ganesha, who removes obstacles
2Lord Brahma, who is the creator of the universe
3Lord Vishnu, who represents preservation and sustenance
4Lord Shiva, who symbolizes destruction and regeneration
5Goddess Durga, who protects from evil and negativity
6Goddess Lakshmi, who brings wealth and prosperity

The six-pointed star rangoli design is a beautiful representation of the diverse and vibrant mythology of Hinduism. It is also a reminder of the various different forces of nature that come together to create a harmonious existence.

Diwali Food and Sweets

Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is celebrated with much enthusiasm and joy throughout India and the world. This festival symbolizes the victory of good over evil, and it marks the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after defeating the demon king, Ravana. The festival celebrations involve lighting oil lamps, distributing sweets, and exchanging gifts with friends and family. Food and sweets play an essential role in the Diwali celebrations, and people prepare a variety of delicious dishes to share with their loved ones.

  • 7 types of sweets: Diwali is incomplete without the traditional Indian sweets that are prepared during this festival. The number 7 holds special significance in Hindu mythology, and it is believed to represent the seven chakras or energy centers in our body. As a result, people traditionally prepare 7 different types of sweets, known as ‘saatvik mithai,’ to represent the different chakras. These sweets include Gulab Jamun, Ladoo, Barfi, Kaju Katli, Jalebi, Rasgulla, and Peda.

In addition to these traditional sweets, people also prepare a variety of savory snacks that are served during Diwali. Some popular snacks include samosas, kachoris, pakoras, and murukku. These snacks are often served with a range of chutneys and dips that add flavor and depth to the dish.

During Diwali, people often fast during the day and break their fast with special foods in the evening. One popular dish that is prepared during this time is ‘poha,’ a sweet and savory dish made with flattened rice, peanuts, potato, and spices. Another popular dish is ‘anarsa,’ a sweet rice flour and jaggery snack that is deep-fried and flavored with saffron.

DishIngredientsPreparation
Gulab JamunMilk powder, flour, ghee, sugar, saffronMix milk powder, flour, and ghee to form dough. Shape into balls and fry until golden brown. Soak in sugar syrup and garnish with saffron strands.
LadooGram flour, sugar, ghee, cardamom powderMix gram flour, sugar, melted ghee, and cardamom powder. Shape into balls and garnish with chopped nuts.
BarfiMilk, sugar, cardamom powder, pistachiosBoil milk and add sugar and cardamom powder. Cook until the mixture thickens. Pour onto a greased dish and garnish with chopped pistachios.

The Diwali celebrations are incomplete without the exchange of sweets, and people often prepare large quantities of sweets to give away to friends and family as gifts. The preparation and sharing of food during Diwali symbolize love, unity, and prosperity, and it is the perfect way to bring people together during this joyous festival.

The Significance of Fireworks in Diwali

Diwali, the festival of lights, is celebrated with great enthusiasm and zeal across India. It signifies the victory of good over evil, the triumph of light over darkness, and the onset of a new year. Fireworks play a significant role in this festival, and people of all ages enjoy lighting up the sky with colorful explosions. Let’s understand the significance of fireworks in Diwali.

  • Warding off Evil: According to Hindu mythology, Diwali celebrates the return of Lord Rama to his kingdom after defeating the demon king Ravana. Fireworks were lit to ward off evil spirits and demons and to welcome Lord Rama back home.
  • Celebrating Prosperity: Fireworks also symbolize prosperity and wealth. It is believed that lighting fireworks during Diwali brings good luck and happiness to people’s lives. The noise and color of fireworks represent the high spirit and excitement of the festival.
  • Spiritual Significance: Fireworks are also considered to have a spiritual significance. It is believed that lighting fireworks helps to dispel the darkness of ignorance and brings clarity, knowledge, and enlightenment into people’s lives.

Interestingly, the number 8 has a deep spiritual meaning in Hinduism, and it is associated with fireworks during Diwali.

NumberSignificance
1God or higher truth
2Dualism: mind and body, good and evil
4The four directions: north, south, east, and west
5The five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste
6The six enemies: lust, anger, greed, pride, envy, and delusion
7The seven chakras or energy centers in the body
8The eight directions: north, south, east, west, northeast, southeast, northwest, and southwest. Fireworks are lit in all eight directions during Diwali to represent the spreading of happiness and joy to all corners of the world.

In conclusion, fireworks have a significant role in Diwali celebrations, and the number 8 holds a spiritual meaning that signifies the spreading of happiness, joy, and prosperity in all directions.

Gifts and Exchange during Diwali

Diwali, the festival of lights, is celebrated by millions of Hindus worldwide. It is a joyous celebration that marks the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. During this auspicious occasion, people exchange gifts as a symbol of love and appreciation for one another. There are several reasons why gifts are given during Diwali, and one of them is the significance of the number nine in Hindu mythology.

  • The significance of the number nine: The number nine is considered sacred in Hinduism, and it is believed to be a symbol of completion and fulfillment. There are nine planets in the solar system, and the Navagraha (nine celestial bodies) hold immense significance in Hindu astrology. The festival of Navratri is celebrated for nine days, and the ninth day is considered the day of victory, which is also known as Vijayadashami. Additionally, there are nine forms of Goddess Durga, and each form represents a unique aspect of life. Therefore, during Diwali, people exchange gifts in sets of nine to symbolize the fulfillment and completion of life.
  • Gifting tradition during Diwali: The tradition of exchanging gifts during Diwali dates back to ancient times. It is believed that King Rama returned to his kingdom after defeating the demon king Ravana, and the people of his kingdom lit lamps to welcome him. To celebrate this joyous occasion, King Rama distributed gifts to his subjects. Since then, the tradition of giving and receiving gifts during Diwali has been carried forward from generation to generation. Today, people exchange various types of gifts such as sweets, clothes, jewelry, and gadgets.
  • Spirit of giving: The act of giving is an integral part of Diwali celebrations. It is believed that by giving selflessly, one can receive blessings and good fortune. Therefore, during this festival, people not only exchange gifts with their loved ones but also donate to the less fortunate. It is a way of spreading joy and happiness and helping those in need. In this way, the act of giving and receiving gifts during Diwali fosters a spirit of generosity and compassion.

Overall, gifts and exchange play a significant role in Diwali celebrations. The concept of gifting in sets of nine symbolizes the completion of life and the fulfillment of desires. The act of giving and receiving gifts is a way to express love and gratitude towards one another. It also fosters a spirit of giving and compassion, making Diwali not only a festival of lights but also a celebration of love and unity.

So, this festive season, let us celebrate the spirit of Diwali by gifting and giving generously.

Symbols of the Number Nine
The Navagraha (Nine Celestial Bodies)
The Nine Planets in the Solar System
The Nine Days of Navratri
The Nine Forms of Goddess Durga

Through these symbols, we can understand the significance of the number nine in Hindu mythology and why it is an important aspect of Diwali celebrations.

Environmental Impact of Diwali Celebrations

Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a major Indian festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil and light over darkness. However, while the celebrations bring joy to many, they also have a significant environmental impact that cannot be ignored. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the environmental impacts of Diwali celebrations, including:

  • Excessive Noise Pollution: One of the most significant environmental impacts of Diwali celebrations is the noise pollution caused by firecrackers. The levels of noise pollution during this festival have been known to exceed safe levels, having a severe impact on the hearing ability of animals and humans alike.
  • Excessive Air Pollution: Firecrackers and other fireworks used during Diwali are known to release harmful chemicals like sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon dioxide. These chemicals have a severe impact on the environment and can cause respiratory and other health problems for humans and animals alike. This air pollution also contributes to climate change, making it a significant environmental concern.
  • Excessive Waste Generation: The festival of Diwali involves a lot of packaging, decoration, and other items that generate excessive amounts of waste. This waste includes items like plastic packaging, wrapping paper, and other non-biodegradable items that end up polluting the environment.

The Number 10: Let’s Celebrate Diwali Differently

In recent years, environmental concerns have led many people to re-think the way they celebrate Diwali. One popular initiative is the “Green Diwali” campaign, which encourages people to celebrate the festival in a way that is less harmful to the environment. Here are ten ways in which you can celebrate Diwali differently:

NumberIdea
1.Choose natural decorations like flowers and leaves instead of plastic ones.
2.Avoid using firecrackers and instead opt for eco-friendly alternatives like sparklers or diyas.
3.Use eco-friendly packaging like paper bags or cloth bags instead of plastic ones.
4.Host a potluck dinner instead of preparing excessive amounts of food that may go to waste.
5.Use rechargeable batteries or solar-powered devices for lighting and decorations.
6.Make your own eco-friendly diyas using clay and natural dyes.
7.Donate to or volunteer at an environmental organization to offset the impact of Diwali celebrations.
8.Spread awareness about the environmental impact of Diwali celebrations and encourage others to celebrate in eco-friendly ways.
9.Celebrate by spending time with your loved ones and enjoying valuable experiences rather than material possessions.
10.Create traditions that promote sustainability and environmental responsibility.

By celebrating Diwali differently and making environmentally friendly choices, we can reduce the festival’s negative impact on the environment while still enjoying its beauty and significance.

What Does Diwali Symbolize FAQs

Q: What is Diwali?
A: Diwali is a festival of lights that is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains around the world.

Q: What does Diwali symbolize?
A: Diwali symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil.

Q: How is Diwali celebrated?
A: Diwali is celebrated by lighting diyas (lamps), decorating homes with rangolis (designs made with colored powder), exchanging sweets, and offering prayers to deities.

Q: What are the different stories associated with Diwali?
A: The most popular story associated with Diwali is the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana. Other stories include the return of Lord Krishna to his village after defeating the demon Narakasura and the day Lord Vishnu sent the demon Bali to the underworld.

Q: Why is Diwali important?
A: Diwali is important because it promotes the values of goodness, kindness, and generosity. It also strengthens family and community bonds.

Q: What is the significance of lighting diyas during Diwali?
A: Lighting diyas during Diwali symbolizes the victory of light over darkness and the dispelling of ignorance.

Q: What is the role of food in Diwali celebrations?
A: Food is an important part of Diwali celebrations. Families exchange sweets and prepare elaborate feasts to share with their loved ones.

Closing: Celebrate the Spirit of Diwali

Now that you know what Diwali symbolizes, it’s time to join in the celebrations! This festival of lights is a time for rejoicing and spreading joy and happiness. So, light up your home with diyas, indulge in sweets, and spend time with your loved ones. We hope you had a wonderful time reading about Diwali and invite you to visit us again soon. Happy Diwali!