The Festival of Illumination

Oct 18, 2017

The date of the festival is calculated according to the position of the moon and the Hindu Lunar calendar and is usually in October or November. This year the main date will be held on Thursday, October 19th. Deepawali or Diwali is the largest, and the brightest of all Hindu festivals officially celebrated in India, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. The festival is marked for five days of celebration, whereas each day is distinguished by a different tradition.

Why is Diwali celebrated?

This five-day festival, which coincides with the Hindu New Year, is seen to be one of the most significant in the Indian culture. Many people celebrate the legend of Hindu God Rama and his wife Sita’s return to their kingdom in northern India after being exiled following the defeat of demon king Ravanna.

The word ‘Diwali’ itself means “series of lights” and during the festival houses and shops are decorated with lights or lanterns. This is meant to signify light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, hope over despair, and the Hindu belief that good will always triumph over evil. For many Indians, Diwali honors Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity.

What is the festival of light all about?

Diwali is marked by grand firework displays, which are supposed to reflect the celebrations of Lord Rama’s return. Traditional earthen Diyas or candles are lit, and houses are decorated with colorful Rangoli artworks – patterns created on the floor using colored rice or powder. During the festival, families and friends share sweets and gifts and there is also a strong belief in giving to those in need. It is also a traditional for one’s house to be cleaned or renovated and new clothes to be worn. Indian sweets, snacks and dry-fruits which come in a range of colors and flavors are also relished during these celebrations.

Author: Mitali Kulkarni, Sabre88 LLC

Editor’s note: Original Sources