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Why Diwali is a Multi-Faith festival?

Diwali is known as Divali; it is one of the major religious festivals in Hinduism, Sikhism, and Jainism. Diwali lasts for five days, starting from the 13th day of the dark half of the lunar month known as Ashvina to the second day of the light half of the lunar month known as Karttika (Both the dates in the Gregorian calendar usually fall in October or November).

By Pujit Tandon

The name Diwali has been derived from a Sanskrit term Deepavali, meaning 'Row of lights.' The festival symbolizes the victory of light over darkness.

Among Hindus, Diwali's festival is celebrated with joy and enjoyment by lighting up diyas on the night of the new moon to invite the presence of goddess Lakshmi in their lives. In India's northern part, the festival is celebrated with Lord Rama's royal homecoming into Ayodhya city after defeating the mighty and legendary Lord Ravana. In India's southern region, the same festival is celebrated on the defeat of the demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna. In some parts of India, Diwali is celebrated on the occasion of the auspicious marriage of goddess Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu; along with this, some people celebrate it as the birthday of Lakshmi.

On this auspicious day, people light up diyas, decorate their homes with flowers and Toran, make rangoli to welcome goddess Lakshmi by keeping doors and windows of their houses open, and pray she would bless their lives with wealth and success.

Diwali brings a sense of joy and happiness as it brings many festivals together. For the first day, which is generally known as Dhanteras, which is celebrated by cleaning the house or purchasing some utensils, Silver, and Gold items. This is followed by the second day called Choti Diwali or Naraka Chaturdashi. People enjoy good meals to celebrate this day. The day is celebrated to abolish the evil in our lives.

On the third day, the festival of lights comes Diwali. The fourth day is Balipratipada, Govardhan Puja, or Annakut, commemorating Lord Krishna's defeat over King of Gods, Indra. This is also the first day known as Kartika, and it is also the start of the new year according to the Vikrama calendar (Hindu calendar).

Along with this, merchants perform certain religious ceremonies and start new account books and ledgers. The fifth day is known as Bhai tikka or Bhai Dooj. This day is celebrated to acknowledge the bond between brothers and sisters, where sisters pray for their brothers' well-being and success.

Diwali is an important festival for many religions along with Hindus. For people who follow Jainism, Diwali is a day of joy and celebration because, on the 24th Tirthankara, Lord Mahavira earned enlightenment from the cycle of life and death (samsara). On this occasion, people from the Jain community light up diyas or lamps to celebrate the dawn of Lord Mahavira's divine knowledge.

The second religion which celebrates Diwali alongside other faiths is Sikhism. The Sikh community celebrates this time of the year when Guru Hargobind Singh Ji returned to Amritsar with 52 other Hindu princes and was released from Prison of Gwalior. Emperor Jahangir imprisoned them. The festival is also called Bandi Chor Divas. Sikh community celebrates this festival by lighting up lamps throughout the city of Amritsar.

This occasion is also celebrated with the Buddhist community as this day the great emperor Ashoka converted himself to Buddhism in the 3rd century BCE. This day is also called Ashok Vijaydashmi. They celebrate this festival in the same way as other religions do by lighting lamps decorating temples and monasteries, and worshiping their goddess Buddha.

Diwali has been spreading lights and happiness across different cultures with people from different backgrounds. India is a diverse nation; therefore, Having other faiths on a similar day makes it a unique festival.

Edited by- Ananya Jain, Kshitij Kumbhat