Dussehra and Diwali are two of the most important festivals celebrated in India. In fact a lot of major calendar activities across home and businesses are conducted keeping these festivals in mind. Schools and colleges stay closed as do most offices. Some businesses even close their financial year during Diwali.
These two festivals ultimately symbolize the victory of good over evil. Lord Rama killed the evil demon Ravana during Dussehra to free his wife Goddess Sita. Diwali symbolizes Lord Rama’s return to his hometown of Ayodhya.
Both of these festivals are celebrated in different forms across the country with different names. In eastern India Dussehra coincides with Durga Puja which is the biggest festival of the region and Diwali runs parallel to Kali Puja. Mysore in the south is particularly well known for a procession of elephants that are led across the city.
Dussehra and Diwali are no longer restricted to the Indian subcontinent but are now spread far and wide. The Indian diaspora has carried the festivals to countries such as Mauritius, Fiji, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, Kenya, UK, USA and Australia. In some of these countries mentioned, it is even an official holiday. Diwali fireworks are an annual feature across the Melbourne night-sky. In Bali, Indonesia, Diwali is known as Galungan. In Singapore, the Little India block is lit up. In Malaysia it is customary for people of Indian origin to welcome their non-Indian neighbours or friends home. Diwali was even celebrated inside the White House in 2003.
The festivals have massive business implications as well. In India the three largest online retailers, Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon have been embroiled in heated competition to sell wares during this festive period. Due to the generally cheerful nature and the related splurge associated with the festivals people tend to spend more on goods at this time of the year. Sweets, chocolates, fire crackers and electronic gadgets are especially popular. With India rising economically these festivals can only increase in importance globally. The myths and folklore will need to get translated into several other languages so that people can feel the connection with the universal theme of the victory of good over evil. Indian cinema is another key medium in popularizing the rituals, grandeur and revelry associated with Dussehra and Diwali.