Word Diwali is the Punjabi version
of the Sanskrit/Hindi word Deepavali or Deepmala a derivatives of the word Deep
that means source of light, i.e. lamp. The Punjabi version of the word Deep is
Diwa (pronounced as Deewa) from which the word Diwali originated. Deepavali or
Diwali is primarily a religious and socio-cultural festivity day for the Hindus
and the Sikhs. The Hindus observe the Diwali by supplicating to the Wealth and
prosperity goddess, called Lakhmi, Lashmi or Lakshmi and illuminating lamps or
lights, shooting fire works and feasting on sweets.
The Hindu festival of Deepavali
dates back to the prehistoric period i.e. circa 5th or 6th
millennium BC when the Hindu god-king Rama is said to have returned with his
wife Sita, (Seeta) whom he had rescued from Sri Lankaís king Ravanaís
captivity. The Hindu populace of Ramís kingdom celebrated the triumphant
occasion by lighting rows and rows of earthen oil lamps (Deepavali).
According to Ramayana [the Hindu
mythology] legend, Sri Lankaís evil King Ravana cunningly abducted Hindu
god-King Ramís beautiful wife Sita. The god-king Rama is said to have had a
bridge built, linking Southeastern tip of India with northwestern tip of Sri
Lanka and waged war and defeated King Ravana with the help of the Hindu
monkey-god Hanuman and his army of monkeys. According to unconfirmed
information, debris of a bridge at a purported underwater location in the
vicinity has been discovered and its picture published in a magazine recently.
According to another version of
the same ancient mythological legend is that Sri Lankaís sagacious king Ravana
abducted Sita because Ramís brother Lakshman had cutoff his beautiful
sisterís nose, because he [Lakshman] was irked at her persistent proposals to
marrying him. And the purported discovery of the bridge debris may just be a
canard bandied around by the zealous Hindus.
The Sikhismís link to Diwali is
comparatively much more recent. The Sikhs are said have started celebrating
Diwali when Guru Har Gobind Sahib was released from Gawaliar fort circa 1612
A.D. According to intertwined history of the tyrannical Mogul dynasty that ruled
India for two centuries, and Sikh Gurus, Guru Arjan Sahib was tortured and
martyred in 1606 AD at the behest of zealous Mogul King Jahangir. Guruís
successor, his juvenile son Hargobind had to choose between options; to let
state-sponsored Jihad annihilate blossoming Sikhism along with Hinduism or to
champion the cause of universal religious freedom. Against the overwhelming odds
Guru chose the latter that entailed preparing Sikhs to thwart the genocidal
attacks on universal religious freedom. Jahangir misconstrued Guruís resolve
to defend universal religious freedom as a threat to Jihad and/or his tyrannical
autocratic rule. He imprisoned the guru in the Gawaliar fort in circa 1610 A.D.
Since, as per Sikhismís salient
tenet, Ďevery day is an auspicious dayí the Sikhs consider the festival of
Diwali as a socio-cultural occasion with historical significance. However, since
the Diwali Day is a holiday in India and it coincides with the Halloween week in
the western world, the Sikhs avail the opportunity to congregate at the
Gurdwaras [Sikh Temples] for religious services. At homes they celebrate with
special feasts, fireworks and lights.