Diwali ~ Victory of Light
The most celebrated holiday in India is centered around the victory of good over evil, higher knowledge dispelling all ignorance, and hope over despair. This festival of lights is called Diwali, the grand celebration spans over five days beginning on the new moon in Autumn. Because it is timed with the moon, it is celebrated anywhere between late October to mid-November. Diwali is translated from Sanskrit to rows of lamps. All forms of light are interwoven throughout India during Diwali from string lights, fireworks, lamps, and even sparklers. Depending on what part of India you are in, there are slight variations to the beliefs and rituals that are practiced, though they all center around the virtue of lightness prevailing evil. In northern India, they celebrate the story of King Rama's return to Ayodhya after he defeated Ravana. Southern India celebrates it as the day that Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura. In western India, the festival marks the day that Lord Vishnu, the Preserver (one of the main gods of the Hindu trinity) sent the demon King Bali to rule the nether world.
Diwali is known to be a time where you open your doors, minds and hearts to your community. During Diwali you share traditional Indian sweets, have decadent meals, and let go of anything that is taking you away from nourishing your friendships. It is a time of pure joy and acceptance for all. There is an extension to non-Hindu neighbors to join in on the festivities as well, whether it be enjoying fireworks or trying on one of the spiritual practices. Even if you aren’t out on the town for the celebrations, your neighbors are likely to come to your home to share holiday treats with you. Everyone is welcomed with enthusiastic love and gratitude.
Centered in the light
Before India enters into the dark and cold winter, Diwali is a reminder that you can cultivate light and warmth from within. One of the affirmations used during Diwali is translated to “May Diwali be a time of sweetness and friendship, wellbeing and prosperity, may the diyas you light within your home nourish your own inner flame so that you may be a source of joy, radiance, and knowledge in this world.” Diyas are flat oil lamps made out of clay with long cotton wicks that are lit both in and outside of the homes. They are a main source of light and decor during Diwali.
“May Diwali be a time of sweetness and friendship, wellbeing and prosperity, may the diyas you light within your home nourish your own inner flame so that you may be a source of joy, radiance, and knowledge in this world.”
Indians decorate with garlands of jasmine and brightly colored sands. A common sand pattern that graces the doorways of India during Dawali is the lotus flower, a symbol of welcome. It’s customary for the families to get new sarees and visit the temple in their community. There are lots of shopping sprees, carnivals, and performances that happen over the 5 day holiday. Women will wear new jewelry, get henna tattoos and gather items used for the rituals. It is believed that Luckshmi, the goddess of wealth, will visit your home if it is well kept and lit with diya lamps.
The 5 days of Diwali
- Day one: People clean their homes and shop for gold or kitchen utensils to help bring good fortune.
- Day two: People decorate their homes with clay lamps and create design patterns called rangoli on the floor using colored powders or sand.
- Day three: On the main day of the festival, families gather together for Lakshmi puja, a prayer to Goddess Lakshmi, followed by mouth-watering feasts and firework festivities.
- Day four: This is the first day of the new year, when friends and relatives visit with gifts and best wishes for the season
- Day five: Brothers visit their married sisters, who welcome them with love and a lavish meal.
This year Diwali begins on November 4th 2021, it may be a good time get inspired to share your favorite dessert with your neighbor or light some candles to honor your inner light and higher self!