It’s a festival of lights, which symbolizes the victory of good over evil, the triumph of light over darkness, justice over injustice and intelligence over ignorance.
Various beliefs are associated with the celebration of this festival. The most common ones relate to:
(i) the return of King Rama to the capital city of Ayodhya after an exile of 14 years in the forest, according to the Epic Ramayana; and
(ii) Lord Krishna’s victory over the demon king Narakashura, if we refer to the Epic Mahabharata.
Anyway, this festival is celebrated on a no-moon day in October-November every year.
On this occasion people of hindu faith renovate their houses by cleaning, washing, painting where required and decorating with colouful lights. But in pure tradition they light what is called a diya, a small lamp made of clay fitted with cotton dipped in oil or vegetable ghee. They also cook sweet cakes and share them among their neighbours, relatives and friends. Here in Mauritius the most popular cake is “gateau batate”, made with flour, batate (sweet potato), coconut and sugar fried in oil or ghee.
Divali is a public holiday here although the festival is celebrated at the fall of the night when lighting of the lamp starts as a gesture to welcome Lakshmi Mata (Mother Lakshmi), the goddess of light, wealth and beauty. Lakshmi Mata is worshipped for prosperity, luck, abundance, generosity and financial well being.
The whole significance of divali resides in the lamp. Lighting the lamp symbolises lighting the Soul.