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Festival Of Lights

'Festival of Lights' or Diwali is a festival which has the potential of unifying entire India because of the charisma and splendor surrounding this festival. Diwali has been given the traditional name of 'festival of lights' because of the hundreds and thousands of small oil lamps or diyas lighted by many households. The burning of these diyas are considered to be the lighted pathway of a person's expression of happiness and also a manner of paying obeisance to God, the Supreme power for attainment of health, prosperity, knowledge, financial security and peace in one's life.

'The festival of lights' is celebrated with much enthusiasm and zeal in all of north India. In fact the festival of Diwali is regarded to bring the supernatural joy and brightness in a person's life with the hope of discovering light amidst darkness, achieving happiness in place of ignorance and spreading of love amidst hatred and violence. The tradition of lighting the diyas on Diwali holds much importance as in Hindu mythology the light signifies goodness and vitality. In cities candles and classy neon lights often substitute these diyas.

The idea behind the lighting of diyas and candles on the festival of lights comes from a number of stories as mentioned in the Hindu mythology. The most famous of these stories is the story revolving around Lord Ram and his family. Diwali celebrates the homecoming of Lord Ram, who according to a legend came home to Ayodhya after defeating the evil Ravana and spending fourteen years in exile. Diwali is also the day of Lord Ram's coronation. According to a popular legend King Dashratha had three wives by the names of Kaushalaya, Keykayee and Sumitra who had four sons Ram, Bharat, Laxmana and Shatrughan. Lord Ram, the son of Queen Kaushalaya was the eldest of all four brothers while Bharat was the son of Queen Keykayee.

Queen Keykayee wanted her son Bharat to be the future king of Ayodhya while King Dashratha decided to coronate Ram to be the future king. Keykayee on getting to know about the decision of king Dashratha decided to ask the king for two wishes which he had promised her earlier in life. For her two wishes Keykayee asked for sending Ram to exile for the period of fourteen years and to crown Bharat as the king, though Bharat refused to accept the kingship. Well Ram went to exile accompanied with his younger brother Lakshman and wife Sita. During exile King Ravana of Lanka abducted Sita and Lord ram had to fight a fierce battle in the southern part of the Indian sub-continent with ravana.

During this fight the king of the demons was killed and Lord Ram came back to Ayodhya along with His brother and wife. Deepavali marks his victorious return to his kingdom along with Hanuman, the Vanar who helped him in achieving success. The legend states it took 20 days for Rama to return to his kingdom after defeating Ravana. As with other Indian festivals, Diwali signifies many different things to people across the country. Like in Gujarat, the festival is celebrated to honor goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth; and in Bengal, it is related with goddess Kali. Though everywhere, it is celebrated with the same sprit and signifies the renewal of life.

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