One story from Indian mythology, is that Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya on this day after defeating the ten-headed evil Ravana. Rama reached Ayodhya with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman to his beloved subjects on the night of no moon, also called Amavasya, when it was completely dark and it was difficult for them to find their way. (There were no street lights at that time)
The people of Ayodhya lit oil lamps in earthen pots known as “diyas” and led their way with fireworks. This brightened up the night and Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshman could find their way home. Since then, this day is celebrated as “Diwali” - “The Festival of Lights”.
Another story is that of Lord Krishna and his wife vanquishing a demon Naraka that was terrorizing people everywhere. And yes, it was a night of no moon too, and people welcomed Lord Krishna home with lighted Diyas.
This day is considered special to the goddess of knowledge, talent, health and prosperity, Goddess Lakshmi - people welcome her into their homes with a special prayer. They light a small earthenware oil lamp which keeps burning throughout the night. It symbolises the victory of the light of goodness and knowledge, over the darkness of evil and ignorance. Most people get their homes painted, and do their spring cleaning around Diwali to invite Goddess Lakhmi to visit the clean, well lit homes. Want your kids to clean their rooms? Tell them that the goddess likes visiting only clean and well lit homes :)
This is a day of festivities, for everyone - children and grownups dress in fine clothes, and decorate their homes with “Diyas” and Rangoli of colorful designs on floors, visit family and friends, and exchange gifts, sweets, and dry fruits...Yum
The grande finale to the Diwali festivities is for kids and adults to burn firecrackers - sparklers and other fireworks light up the night sky.
This year Diwali is being celebrated on November 11. Wish you a happy Diwali!