The Hindu festival of lights ‘Diwali’ was celebrated all over India last week on November 11, 2015, marked by four days of celebration. ‘Diwali’ or ‘Deepavali” literally means festival of lights in Hindi (deep = light and avali = a row i.e., a row of lights). Each of the four days in the festival of Diwali denotes a different tradition, but the underlying essence is the celebration of life.
Historically, the origin of Diwali can be traced back to ancient India, though there are various legends pointing to its origin. The most popular belief is that the festival of Diwali commemorates the return of Lord Rama alongwith his wife, Sita and brother Lakshmana from his fourteen yearlong exile after vanquishing the demon-king of Lanka, Ravana. The people of Ayodhya (Capital of Rama’s kingdom) illuminated the kingdom with earthen oil lamps and burst crackers in joyous celebration of the return of their king,
Interestingly, U.S. President Barrack Obama, alongwith U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, celebrated Diwali at the White House by lighting Diwali lamps (diyaas) signifying the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. In 2009, President Obama was the first U.S. President to light the Diya, or oil lamp. This year, the White House honored the holiday on Diwali for the fifth year