Sometimes called the Festival of Lights, Diwali is a major Hindu holiday that happens during the fall. Celebrating Diwali is one of the most beautiful Hindu holiday traditions, filled with joy and festive lights. The holiday begins with families cleaning their homes and decorating for the holiday. They decorate their homes with beautiful designs called rangoli and fill their homes with light.
The Diwali festival lasts five days, each day having a different focus. It is an auspicious holiday. The Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess of prosperity and consort of the God Vishnu, is particularly important on Diwali. She is said to visit every home during Diwali, but she visits the cleanest homes first, which is why they begin the holiday cleaning their homes. In addition, different parts of India celebrate a variety of mythical events, many tales involving different incarnations of the God Vishnu. Diwali is also the New Year on the Vikrama calendar, a historical Hindu calendar. Because the dates for Diwali are based on a lunar calendar, the dates fluctuate from year to year between sometime in October to November.
Diwali takes its name from the Sanskrit word Deepavali which means “Row of Lights,” referring to the lamps lit on the third day of the festival.
Occurring on the New Moon, lighting up the darkness is an important theme for Diwali. The lights symbolize hope and goodness overcoming the darkness of evil. On the third day, families fill their homes with light all day and into the night. Traditionally, oil lamps called deeps are used. A popular form of these lamps are small, decorative lamps in the shape of bowls, called handi (handi means bowl). In addition, today in India they augment these lamps with candles, metal lamps, and festive,. multicolored electric lights. Fireworks are also a popular Diwali tradition. Families set off private fireworks displays, including sparklers and firecrackers.
Rangoli are another beautiful Diwali tradition.
These brightly colored beautiful designs are made on the floor of homes, typically using colored powders. The patterns are festive, and people are encouraged to be creative. Geometric and floral patterns are popular. Images of Lord Ganesh, God of Prosperity and happiness, are common, as are peacocks, which are the national bird and represent happiness and joy. Rangoli are considered good luck. They are used to purify the homes for a variety of celebrations, including weddings and birth ceremonies, in addition to Diwali. During the celebrations, businesses and schools host rangoli-making competitions for fun.
Diwali is a time for shopping and exchanging gifts.
Giving gifts to the people in their lives, including family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors is a very honored tradition during the holiday. These gifts symbolize prosperity, and are given as signs of respect, love, and appreciation. Often, the gift include messages wishing the recipient a Happy Diwali. Traditionally, the gifts were handmade decorations and sweets. Today, a wide range of gifts are exchanged, ranging from traditional sweets, decorations, and special Ganesh and Lakshmi coins that are for good luck to more expensive items like jewelry and electronics.
One of the reasons I particularly like Diwali is because I love the lights.
I am not Hindu, but I first learned about Diwali because one of my closest friends is Hindu. I find it a beautiful, happy holiday. Fall, with its crisp air and the beautiful fall colors, is my favorite time of the year, but I confess that I struggle with the nights as they grow longer. As a result, I particularly love holiday lights this time of year[[all kinds of light against the growing dark The bright colors of the rangoli, the beautifully decorated lamps, and the festive lights of Diwali fill the dark with happiness and hope, even for this non-Hindu.
Happy Diwali! May you have prosperity and health in the year to come, and may the long nights be full of light.