09 Oct Diwali
Diwali, or Deepawali, the Hindu festival of lights, is a celebration of the Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Its’ timing is set by the Hindu calendar. So it varies every year in the West, but it normally falls in October or November.
What is Diwali
It is a five-day celebration. Houses, shops and public buildings are lit with small earthenware oil lamps called diyas or divas. ‘Deep’ means ‘light’ and ‘awali’ means ‘a row’ or ‘a row of lights.’
These lights are traditionally said to help the Goddess Lakshmi find her way into peoples’ homes. Given that she is the goddess of wealth, attracting her is important. Business people regard Diwali as the right time to start a new accounting year. Huge firework displays are also held, while families feast and share gifts.
Who Celebrates It
The Sikh and Jain faiths also celebrate Diwali. While each of the three religions has a particular reason for the celebration. One of the most popular stories told about it is the legend of Lord Rama and his wife Sita returning to their kingdom in Northern India from exile after defeating the demon King Ravana in the 15th century BC.
It is said that the local people were so happy to see the couple that they welcomed them home with special oil lamps called diyas. Lights and fireworks has been a key part of the Diwali celebration ever since then. The festival celebrates good over evil and light over darkness.
As with all religious festivals, there is a spiritual significance behind the gifts and the partying. Diwali is a time for forgetting and forgiving the wrongs done to us by others. During Diwali, Hindus, Sikhs and Jains make a particular effort to rise early in the morning – during the Brahmamuhurta, at 4am or roughly 90 minutes before the sunrise in India. Rising early is supposed to be beneficial from the standpoint of health, ethical discipline, efficiency at work and spiritual advancement.
Diwali is also intended as a great force for unifying the people. During Diwali, joy and love for others are intended to prevail. Charitable giving and good deeds towards others are a key part of the festival.
Diwali also encourages people to aim for prosperity and progress. Everyone buys new clothes, homes are cleaned and decorated.
Finally, Diwali encourages people to illuminate their inner self; It is said that light illuminates the soul and by filling the world with light in Diwali, we cultivate and enjoy eternal happiness within ourselves and others.