If there is one festival in the Hindu world which is all joy and cheerfulness for one and all — young and old, men, women and children — it is Divali the
Festival of Lights. When the sun sets and darkness threatens to engulf the world, God lights the stars of Heaven to show man the way, and
‘when man’s mind is filled with the light of Heaven, all obstacles in his path fade away’
On Divali night, mankind lights the lamp of his heart to fill the earth with light and sweetness. Everybody participates in this collective overflow of
love and thankfulness. Even the humblest hut, forgetting its sOrrow, sports a row of earthen lamps to join in the universal celebration. Crackers resound and fireworks light up the earth and sky. Faces of boys and
girls light up and glow. Whole villages and towns are lit up scattering spiritual radiance far and near.
‘Light, my light, the world-filling light, theeye-kissing light, heart-sweetening light!
Ah, the light dances, my darling, atthe centre of my life; the light strikes, my darling, the chords of my love; the
sky opens, the wind runs wild, laughter passes over the earth.The butterflies spread their sails on thesea of light. Lilies and jasmines surge up on the crest of the waves of light.
The light is shattered into gold on everycloud, my darling, and it scatters gems, in
R. Tagore — Gitanjali LVII
Divali is man’s way of placing himself firmly on the side of Good against Evil. Divali, from the Sanskrit Deepavali, literally means a row of lights. The
Festival of Lights is celebrated with great rejoicing in the month of Kartika (October— November), on a moonless night when Nature has made the night the darkest, and man has made it the brightest.
In preparation for the festival, people get busy washing and cleaning their houses with particular care. New clothes have to be bought or made for the
children, sweetmeats have to be prepared to be distributed to friends and relatives.
In Mauritius, Divali is celebrated in honour of Goddess Lakshmi, consort of Lord Vishnu. She personifies, beauty and wealth — she who rose from the ocean
of milk when it was churned. She is Eortuna’ — the bestower of fortune, prosperity and wealth. On Divali day, she returns to Earth. It is believed that Goddess Lakshmi only enters homes that are clean and spotless.
Cakes and sweetmeats are carefully packed anddistributed. ‘Diyas’ (little clay lamps) are carefully arranged in rows along the walls and parapets, on the
verandahs and in the yard. Everybody is busy pouring oil into the ‘diyas’ and cutting wicks just the right length. Mothers and sisters draw a good-luck design outside the front door with coloured powders. At sunset
the ‘diyas’ are lighted. The whole family joins in stringing light after light, along the roof and the windows and the yard.
Everywhere there are golden lights. These lights will guide Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth and good fortune back to earth. On Divali night Lakshmi flies down
on the wings of the Heavenly Swan. When she visits a home, she leaves her blessings,wealth and good fortune
Earlier the ‘prayer-place’ has been carefully swept and decorated. Flowers, fruits and sweets are offered to the gods and the children’s foreheads are
daubed with vermilion powder. After the prayers the children are allowed to let off fireworks. Rockets shoot into the dark skies and explode into a thousand stars. Divali greetings are exchanged.