Beyond the lights, gambling, and fun, Diwali is also a time to reflect on life and make changes for the upcoming year. With that, there are a number of customs that revelers hold dear each year.
Give and forgive. It is common practice that people forget and forgive the wrongs done by others during Diwali. There is an air of freedom, festivity, and friendliness everywhere.
Rise and shine. Waking up during the Brahmamuhurta (at 4 a.m., or 1 1/2 hours before sunrise) is a great blessing from the standpoint of health, ethical discipline, efficiency in work, and spiritual advancement. The sages who instituted this Deepawali custom may have hoped that their descendants would realize its benefits and make it a regular habit in their lives.
Unite and unify. Diwali is a unifying event, and it can soften even the hardest of hearts. It is a time when people mingle about in joy and embrace one another.
Those with keen inner spiritual ears will clearly hear the voice of the sages, “O children of God unite, and love all.” The vibrations produced by the greetings of love, which fill the atmosphere, are powerful. When the heart has considerably hardened, only a continuous celebration of Deepavali can rekindle the urgent need of turning away from the ruinous path of hatred.
Prosper and progress. On this day, Hindu merchants in North India open their new account books and pray for success and prosperity during the coming year. People buy new clothes for the family. Employers, too, purchase new clothes for their employees.
Homes are cleaned and decorated by day and illuminated by night with earthen oil lamps. The best and finest illuminations can be seen in Bombay and Amritsar. The famous Golden Temple at Amritsar is lit in the evening with thousands of lamps.
This festival instills charity in the hearts of people, who perform good deeds. This includes Govardhan Puja, a celebration by Vaishnavites on the fourth day of Diwali. On this day, they feed the poor on an incredible scale.
Illuminate your inner self. The lights of Diwali also signify a time of inner illumination. Hindus believe that the light of lights is the one that steadily shines in the chamber of the heart. Sitting quietly and fixing the mind on this supreme light illuminates the soul. It is an opportunity to cultivate and enjoy eternal bliss.
From Darkness Unto Light…
In each legend, myth, and story of Deepawali lies the significance of the victory of good over evil. It is with each Deepawali and the lights that illuminate our homes and hearts that this simple truth finds new reason and hope.
From darkness unto light—the light empowers us to commit ourselves to good deeds and brings us closer to divinity. During Diwali, lights illuminate every corner of India, and the scent of incense sticks hangs in the air, mingled with the sounds of firecrackers, joy, togetherness, and hope.
Diwali is celebrated around the globe. Outside of India, it is more than a Hindu festival; it’s a celebration of South-Asian identities. If you are away from the sights and sounds of Diwali, light a diya, sit quietly, shut your eyes, withdraw the senses, concentrate on this supreme light, and illuminate the soul
All of the simple rituals of Diwali have a significance and a story behind them. Homes are illuminated with lights, and firecrackers fill the skies as an expression of respect to the heavens for the attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace, and prosperity.
According to one belief, the sound of firecrackers indicates the joy of the people living on earth, making the gods aware of their plentiful state. Still another possible reason has a more scientific basis: the fumes produced by the firecrackers kill or repel many insects, including mosquitoes, which are plentiful after the rains.