The word ‘Diwali’ is an incorrect form of the world Deepavali or Deepali, which means a collection of lighted lamps with which the houses and temples are decorated on the occasion of the festival Deepanvita. The festival falls every year on the day of the new-moon in the month of Kartikeya (October), when Goddess Kali is worshipped and the dwelling houses and temples and also public places belonging to the Hindus are beautifully illumined with hundreds of rows of lighted lamps.
The Diwali illumination signifies the rays of hope and prospect for a higher life lit in millions of hearts of the Hindus. Diwali symbolizes the aspiration noticed in the Brihadaranyaka Upanisadic hymn:
Tamaso ma Jyotirgamaya
(Lead me from darkness to light).
Mrityor ma Amtitamagamaya
(Lead me from death to immortality).
Thus the festival of Diwali is not merely a festival of merriment, but it is a pointer to higher life. The origin of Diwali is mixed with various myths and legends, such as killing of the demon called Narakasura by Sri Krishna, or the destruction of Ravana by Sri Ramachandra. The inner meaning of Diwali is the overcoming of the Evil by the Good, the advancement of evolution of mankind to the supreme goal.
On the occasion, the Hindus exchange good wishes and greetings, and distribute sweetmeats, various presents and new clothes amongst their friends and relatives as a gesture of love and affection.
Diwali festival is observed all over India mainly by 1 Hindus who are sometimes found to send greetings and presents to their friends belonging even to the other communities as a matter of courtesy or formality. It is, no doubt, a joyful festival that is observed by the Hindus along with their near and dear ones.