Diwali: Festival of Lights
Updated: Dec 16, 2020
BY ANJALI PRABHAKAR
You may know that Diwali is the Festival of Lights, but what exactly does that mean? It’s a day which represents “victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance”, celebrated by lighting candles, known as diyas, around the home to get rid of the darkness. Darkness signifies ignorance and light is knowledge.
Also known as Deepavali, it is the most important holiday celebration in the largely-populated country of India. This day marks the new year and opening new accounting books. Diwali is today, October 27, 2019. The dates for Diwali is determined by the Hindu lunar calendar, being in either October or November. Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and some Buddhists celebrate Diwali. However, today, Diwali is more of a national holiday in India, celebrated by all Indians regardless of religion.
Diwali is celebrated for different reasons around various regions of India. By illuminating clay lamps in homes, north Indians celebrate King Rama’s return after destroying the evil Ravana, the mythical demon king of Lanka. In South India and Nepal, Diwali is the day Lord Krishna destroys Narakasura, a demon. For western Indians, they celebrate Lord Vishnu dispatching a demon called King Bali to rule the Nether world. Diwali is additionally a day of worship for Goddess Lakshmi, goddess of wealth and prosperity, where Indians seek her blessings for a financial new year. Lamps are lit to welcome her into the house and show her the path.
Diwali spans over five days with a different ritual on each day such as cleaning one’s home, decorating homes with clay lamps and rangoli - beautiful patterns using vibrant colored powders and sand, watching grand fireworks displays, delicious feasts of food, gatherings of family and friends, prayers to the goddess Lakshmi, sharing gifts, and wearing new clothes. Also, Diwali would not be complete without eating sweet mouth-watering desserts such as laddu and gulab jamun!
Diwali brings people from all around the world to spend time with their loved ones and celebrate the new year. Now you know about the meaning of the Festival of Lights!