Diwali is celebration that started millions of years ago when demons ruled the earth. They were a menace to the humans and would not let them pray to their gods. To save them, the gods Ram and Laxman, took human form as the sons of a king. The goddess Sita also took human form as the wife of Ram. Shiva a very powerful god took the form the a monkey, Hanuman, to assist Ram on his mission to defeat Ravaan the king of demons. On earth, the king, Ram's father, had three wives. When the time came for an heir to be chosen to take the throne one of the wives convinced the king to choose her son and send Ram into the jungle in exile for 14 years. The king did this because he had a debt to his queen and he sent Ram into the jungle with Laxman and Sita. Many years passed, and as Ram's exile came to an end the the Gods messed with Ravaan’s mind and convinced him to kidnap Sita. As Ram searched for his wife it led him to Ravaan's palace. With the help of Hanuman he saved Sita and burned Ravan and his palace to the ground. This day is known as Dashera. On this day large statues of Ravan are made and burned in the streets of India. This day represents the death of evil spirits and cleansing for the new year. After saving Sita, Ram began his journey home. The day before he returned home the people of his kingdom prayed to Lakshmi the goddess of wealth and prosperity. This day is known as Dhanteras. Ten days after saving Sita he returned to his kingdom and all of the people were overjoyed. They lit diyas in his honor and celebrated with firecrackers. This day is known as Diwali. Although Diwali as a celebration lasts approximately two weeks the day Ram returned is known as Diwali.

During the celebration of Diwali, families come together and enjoy each other's company by lighting fireworks and lamps to thank the gods and celebrate light. After Diwali comes the new year and it is believed that the lights and noise from firecrackers bring the Gods to your home for the new year. Each day of the celebration people light diyas in their homes and pray to different gods. Diyas are lamps, traditionally clay, filled with ghee or oil. On Dhanteras a prayer is performed for Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. In this ceremony coins are washed and offered to Lakshmi and a prayer is said. This brings her blessings and presence to your home for the new year. Along with coins people place food as offerings.

Common offerings
These offering are not only presented to the godess Lakshmi but are common for all prayers performed to the gods. These prayers are called poojas. Ghee is prepared by cooking the water off from butter and is common in many indian foods. It is also used to light diyas. Tulsi is a very sacred plant and is similar to basil in taste. Sheera is a common sweet dish usually made with semolina but there are many different ways it can be prepared. Click here for an easy sheera recipie.


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