Diwali celebrates the light overcoming the dark, according to the SCFI’s website, Diwali festival. The light symbolizes knowledge and wisdom, while darkness is a symbol for all negative forces, such as wickedness, destruction, violence, lust, envy, injustice, greed, oppression and suffering.
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Households light dozens of little clay oil lamps, called diyas, to symbolize the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. The word “Diwali,” or “Deepawali” in Sanskrit, means “a row of lamps” in Sanskrit.
The festival’s roots lie in Hindu scriptures and legends, according to the SCFI, and there are many stories associated with the celebration. For example, Diwali commemorates the triumph of Rama, the lord of virtue, over the demon Ravana, as well as the return of Rama to his kingdom after 14 years of exile.
Hindus also commemorate the victory of the god Krishna over Narakasura, a king who had aligned himself with a demon, causing him to turn evil. Also, Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth — including the wealth of money, pleasure, power, strength, knowledge, peace and children — is said to walk the Earth and bless people. Other legends are celebrated according to different local customs. Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists also celebrate Diwali but mark different events and stories. However, they all symbolize the victory of light over darkness.