Deepavali / Diwali (Festival Of Lights) is a beautiful festival of the Hindus. The festival is celebrated 21 days after Dussehra. It marks the return of Lord Rama (Hero of the epic Ramayana) to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. Thousands of traditional clay lamps are lit in houses all over the country. Lakshmi -the goddess of wealth and prosperity is worshipped. The houses are cleaned and decorated with designs drawn on the floor (kolams). It is believed that Lakshmi only enters homes that are clean and spotless. People wear new apparel, consume a rich and sumptuous feast and burst crackers.
Diwali is celebrated for five days. Each day is dedicated to a special thought. First day – Dhanteras or Dhantrayadashi is celebrated in favour of goddess Lakshmi. Poojas are performed and devotional songs are sung in praise of the goddess. Small foot steps are made with rice flour and vermilion powder on the floors of the houses depicting the arrival of the goddess. Earthen lamps filled with oil having cotton wicks are arranged in neat rows along the walls and parapets in the verandahs. These lamps are lit in the evening and kept throughout the night. Glittering lights are a splendid spectacle.
Second day the Narka – Chaturdashi or Choti Diwal, the celebrations are based on a legend of the killing of the Naraka Asura by Lord Krishna. Traditional early baths with oil are made and kumkums are applied on their foreheads.
On the following days Goddess Kali is worshipped; then books are worshipped in a special ceremony, old accounts settled and new ones opened. The legend of the Asura king Bali is also remembered on these days. On Diwali day, delicious sweets are prepared and exchanged among friends and relatives.