Sita ram to one and all
Diwali, also called Deepavali, known as the "Festival of Lights," is a major Hindu festival that symbolises the victory of good over evil. In North India, Diwali marks the time when the Hindu God Rama achieved victory over the demon Ravana. Celebrations of this event involve lighting lamps and fireworks to symbolize hope and restoration.
Diwali is celebrated for five consecutive days at the end of Hindu month of Ashwayuja. It usually occurs in October/November, and is one of the most popular and eagerly awaited festivals in India. Hindus and Sikhs alike regard it as a celebration of life and use the occasion to strengthen family and social relationships.
In Sanskrit, the word Deepavali means an array of lights that stands for victory of brightness over darkness. However, as the knowledge of Sanskrit diminished over the centuries, the term was modified to Diwali, especially in northern India. To this day, Diwali is the common name used by North Indians for the festival while South Indians call it Deepavali. However, the meanings of both terms are identical: "row of lights."
While Diwali is popularly known as the "festival of lights," its most significant esoteric meaning is "the awareness of the inner light."
Central to Hindu philosophy is the assertion that there is something beyond the physical body and mind which is pure, infinite, and eternal, called the Atman. Just as we celebrate the birth of our physical being, Diwali is the celebration of this Inner Light the knowing of which outshines all darkness (removes all obstacles and dispels all ignorance), awakening the individual to one's true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality. With the realization of the Atman, comes universal compassion, love, and the awareness of the oneness of all things (higher knowledge). This brings Ananda (Inner Joy or Peace).
Diwali celebrates this through festive fireworks, lights, flowers, sharing sweets, and worship. While the story behind Deepavali varies from region to region, the essence is the same—to rejoice in the Inner Light (Atman) or the underlying reality of all things (Brahman).
Sir Hemant Narinedath