Celebrated over a period of five days, India’s festival of lights, Diwali, symbolizes the victory of light over darkness. It is one of the biggest festivals in Hinduism and takes place every autumn, either in October or November. In 2018, the main festivities will take place on Wednesday 7th November. Here are a few traditions we think you should know about!
Preparations for Diwali begin well in advance and involve thoroughly cleaning houses, making refurbishments as well as throwing away unwanted items. This is because goddess Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth only blesses clean houses. Furthermore, to welcome Lakshmi, many people also decorate their doorways by drawing beautiful patterns on the ground using colored rice, powder, sand or flower petals. Diwali art, such as the rangoli decoration is thought to bring good luck.
A “diya” is an oil lamp used to light up homes during the Diwali festival and symbolizes prosperity and optimism. Diyas are handmade out of clay and often painted in vibrant colors. As Diwali takes place on the night centering the new moon - the darkest night - people light diyas to cancel out the darkness. Diwali is also referred to as “Deepavali,” which means a row of lights, hence why the lighting of the diyas is one of the most significant rituals in the Diwali celebrations.
It is also customary to worship goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, alongside Lord Ganesha. On the third day, the most auspicious day of the festival, every Hindu household performs the Lakshmi Puja - the worship of Lakshmi. Praying to the goddess ensures you are blessed with a wealthy and prosperous life.
Diwali is a joyous occasion, where traditional foods play a big role. While families do prepare savory dishes, sweet delicacies usually take center stage during the festival. Traditional Indian sweets, including Jalebi, Karanji, and Coconut laddoo are given as gifts to family, friends, and neighbors.
Finally, as it’s the festival of lights, it’s no surprise that spectacular firework displays are held throughout Diwali. They light up the night sky all over India and many other cities across the world. These displays usually take place on the evening of the third day of the festival, following feasts and celebrations. To all of our readers celebrating Diwali, we wish you a healthy and prosperous year ahead!