Welcome to Diwali, the Festival of Lights and Hope
Updated: Feb 1
Diwali is a heartwarming festival full of light, celebration, and goodness. At its heart, it's a celebration of the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, and hope over despair. Every year, countless individuals come together to experience this delightful festival.
Originating from modern day India, the tradition of Diwali is thought to be more than 2500 years old.
What is Diwali?
Diwali, or the Festival of Lights, is a five-day festival held every year in October or November.
Diwali, also known as Deepawali, actually means "a line of lit lamps”. While it is commonly regarded as a Hindu festival, other Indian faiths such as Sikhism and Jainism also observe it, albeit for different reasons.
According to the Indian lunisolar calendar, Diwali falls in the month of Karthik. The calculation of months in this intricate calendar system takes into account the sun and moon. This explains why the dates of the festival can vary according to the Gregorian calendar. It's beautiful that Diwali always happens when there's a new moon. This means that the light of this festival beats the darkest night of the month.
The five days of Diwali are:
Naraka Chaturdashi or Choti Diwali
Govardhan Puja or Padva
While different regions and traditions within India attribute different legends to the festival, there is one recurrent theme. Diwali is a celebration of those who aid humanity in overcoming evil by vanquishing it with good.
The festival is also an important marker for the agricultural community. For farmers, Diwali signals the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. Therefore, they express gratitude for the gifts of the previous year and pray for prosperity in the coming one.
It is believed that this festival opens the doors for abundance and prosperity to enter our lives. For some regions, like Gujarat, the festival marks the start of the new year. It is the ideal occasion for us to make plans for the future and approach it with optimism. After all, we have luck and fortune on our side.
The Story Behind Diwali
The story of Diwali begins with Rama, the virtuous prince of Ayodhya.
Due to evil schemes in the palace, Rama was sent into exile for fourteen years. The people of Ayodhya were crushed and wanted their beloved prince to remain in the city. Rama, on the other hand, believed it was his duty to accept this fate because he could never bring dishonour to his father by staying back.
During his exile, Prince Rama was accompanied to the forest by his wife Sita and brother Laxman. One day, while the two brothers were away to get some food, an evil king by the name of Ravana kidnapped Sita and took her away to his kingdom. Despite all the odds, Rama was able to raise a small army and defeat Ravana. Through this feat, he was able to recover Sita and bring victory to the side of virtue.
By this time, the exile is over, and Rama is warmly welcomed back to Ayodhya. Rama’s younger step-brother requests the virtuous prince to take back the throne. The people celebrate the victory and the arrival of Rama by placing small lamps around the city.
The Beauty of Diwali
Diwali is beautiful because it gives us a chance to express our gratitude and hope for a better future. It reminds us that goodness will prevail.
Most importantly, it reminds us that we can be a source of goodness and light to others.
In addition to religious rituals, the following Diwali customs are observed annually by those who celebrate the holiday:
Decorating the home and the neighbourhood with lit clay lamps
Lighting fireworks to celebrate the victory of good over evil
Cleaning the home to attract prosperity and fortune
Wearing new clothes to pay respect to the new year
Investing resources in meaningful places like gold
Enjoy delicious feasts with the best of dishes
Sharing sweets with friends and family to spread love and happiness
Giving thoughtful gifts to strengthen bonds
Creating Rangolis or beautiful pieces of art to enhance the festivities
Throwing parties where you can get together with loved ones
The philosophy of Diwali is simple, acknowledge the blessings of the past, promise to be kind to others, and enter the future with a hopeful mindset.
Every Diwali tradition, in one way or the other, brings us closer to this simple philosophy.
More than one billion people celebrate Diwali every year