Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - In India and Nepal, the five-day Diwali festival consumes every year as much as electricity as an whole month. Still, the 'festival of lights' is the most important and lavish celebration on the Hindu calendar. And today, the fifth and final day of the festival, people celebrated Bhai Tika, a time when brothers and sisters meet and exchange gifts.
Diwali celebrations are known for their magnificence and the use made of hundreds of thousands of lights. Both India and Nepal however are not yet self-sufficient in energy and celebrations are a financial burden on people. In fact, although India is building nuclear plants to power its industries, it is forced to import electricity from Bhutan. In turn, Nepal imports electricity from India for its everyday needs.
According to tradition, Diwali marks Prince Rama's return to Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh), after he defeated the demon Ravana and rescued his wife Sita. Together, the two went into the city greeted by thousands of burning lamps.
For Hindus, Rama is the seventh appearance (avatar) of the all-pervading god Vishnu, and Sita is the incarnation of his wife Lakshmi. The prince's adventures are told in the Ramayana, one of the most important Hindu epics.
Traditionally, the Bhai Tika commemorates the day when Yama, lord of death, visited his sister Yami (the sacred Yamuna River).
Yami welcomed Yama with an Aarti and they celebrated together. Before leaving Yama, left a gift to his sister.
The Aarti is a ritual during which a camphor flame is lit and the emanating light is offered to the deity.