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Festival of Lights

Ann Sussan Abraham Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Festival of Lights

Diwali or Dipavali is a Hindu festival which is celebrated all over India during the Hindu Lunisolar month, Kartika. In North India, Diwali is celebrated to mark the return of King Rama from Ayodhya after defeating Ravana. In South India, Diwali celebrates Narakasura's defeat by Lord Krishna while in Western India this festival of lights honours Lord Vishnu for sending the demon, King Bali, to rule the Nether world.

When we think about Diwali the 1st thing that comes to our minds are the well-lit Diyas around the colourful rangolis. Diyas are placed during the new moon night to invoke the blessings of the Hindu goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. In Bengal, goddess Kali is worshipped while Rama, Lakshmana, Sits & Hanuman are worshipped in North India. Diwali is usually celebrated for over 5 days. The first day is spent by purifying their homes & buying new utensils.

On the second day people decorate their homes with Diyas (clay lamps) & design rangolis (floor patterns made from coloured sand or powder). Day three is the main day. During this day everyone gathers together & chants the Lakshmi Puja. After this everyone enjoys eating sweets & lighting fireworks. Relatives are visited & gifts are handed to each other on the 4th day.

The 5th day is celebrated by brothers by visiting their married sisters houses where they enjoy a lavish feast. This year Diwali is celebrated on Saturday, 14 November 2020. During Diwali gambling is encouraged, though not always, to ensure good luck. Ritually in honour of Goddess Lakshmi, the female player always wins the game.

Diwali is also an important festival in Jainism. Jains believe that the festival commemorates the passing into nirvana of Mahavira, the most recent of the Jain Tirthankaras. The lighting of the lamps is explained as a material substitute for the light of holy knowledge that was extinguished with Mahavira’s passing. Diwali is also celebrated in Sikhism to commemorate the return of Guru Hargobind in Amritsar.

Diwali is celebrated all over India for different reasons but we must remember that it’s not just a festival for having fun, it gives a moral too by showing the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. Happy Diwali !!!

Ann Susan Abraham
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