Deepavali or the Festival of Light celebrates the triumph of light over darkness. It signifies an awareness of one’s inner light and the victory of good over evil within us. Deepavali is observed during the seventh month of the Hindu calendar which falls in October and November.
Stories about how Deepavali orginated have a common theme; good overcomes evils and prevails. Lord Krishna with the help of his wife Satyabhama battles and slays evil Naraka, while Lord Rama destroys the demon Ravana and reunites with Sita. Deepavali may also have originated as a harvest festival marking the last harvest of the year when accounts are closed. The deity of wealth, Lakshmi, is thanked and everyone prays for a good year ahead.
Hindus prepare for Deepavali by cleansing their minds and bodies. Devout Hindus fast or observe a strict vegetarian diet. They spend weeks prior to Deepavali praying and meditating. On the actual day, they begin before sunrise with the ritual bath oil. They put on new clothes and ask for blessing from God and from the elders in the household. Some go straight to the temple while others have breakfast first, usually starting with something sweet like suji (semolina). The rest of the day is spent delighting in the company of family and friends, and feasting on specially prepared foods.
The day represents the year, the house is kept clean and bright, at night lamps are lit, lights are turned on. There are an abundance of food, love, goodwill and joy.