The Festival of Lights in India, or Diwali is celebrated each year in honor of four ideals held in high regard. The five ideals celebrated during Diwali are wealth, strength, freedom from tyranny, perception of goodness in others and forgiveness of wrongdoings. The idea behind this festival is that light will lead people from darkness and evil. Every home and business is illuminated with many oil lamps during this festival to remind everyone that light is knowledge.
The first day of the celebration of Diwali in South India is "Naraka Chaturdasi." This day is celebrated in honor of Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama. The duo rid the world of Naraka, an evil man who exerted his strength on the weak and enslaved many women. Indians celebrate their freedom of tyranny on this day.
The second day of Diwali in South India is "Amavasya." This day is celebrated in honor of the Goddess Lakshmi. It is believed that she bestows wealth on her devotees on this day. Wealth is considered honorable and not criminal in the Indian culture. People that have wealth are being rewarded for their good deeds from their previous lives.
The third day is known as "Kartika Shudda Padyami" in South India. This day is celebrated for those that are generous and in remembrance of the demon king Bali and his release of Lord Vishnu. Celebrants are reminded to try and find the goodness in everyone.
The fourth day is known as "Yama Dvitiya" in South India. On this day sisters invite their brothers into their homes for a feast. It is a time to celebrate the New Year and new business ventures.
The Diwali festival of lights is celebrated in the Krishna temples by the feeding and worship cows. The cow is considered to be sacred in the Indian culture. The cosmic ocean gave forth fourteen jewels to the gods. One of the jewels was the celestial cow that is responsible for joy and abundance.
In other parts of India the celebration is similar but has different names for each of the days. The first day is known as "Dhanteras" for the rows of lights that are lit in each home or establishment. The second day is "Kali Chaudas" in remembrance of the Goddess Kali and her strength. The third day is called "Diwali" in honor of the Goddess Lakshmi and her distribution of wealth. The fourth day is known as "Bestarvarsh" or New Year's Day when the new business year begins.
Decorations during the celebration of Diwali include doorway swags of mango leaves and marigolds. Rangoli patterns are familiar in homes celebrating and card parties are popular pastimes during this holiday. Online Diwali greetings have become a popular way to send friends good tidings during this holiday celebration.
The celebration of this holiday has become highly commercialized. Families shop for firecrackers, sparklers and gifts for friends and family members much like the Christmas holiday for Americans. Traditional gifts include jewelry, fruit, sweets and other small gifts. Children enjoy exploding firecrackers for hours on end on the third day of the celebration and parents celebrate by lighting many rows of tiny oil lamps to remind others that knowledge is light.