The atmosphere is all lights, colors, joy and freshness in India and Nepal. Hindus are celebrating their Diwali festival today.
Diwali is a festival of light. It is a season of love, happiness and renewal for the Hindus.
During the celebration, people beautify their homes, workplaces and environments with light decorations. Just like the Christmas season of Christians people shop for nice dresses, cook meals, invite people over and exchange gifts.
Preparations for the festival are made weeks before the main day of the celebration. For instance before the Diwali night, Hindus thoroughly clean up their homes and workplaces. They are then decorated with lights -lamps and candles- on the inside and outside as well.
The ladies are colorfully dressed and adorned with jewelries and henna designs.
Families gather to pray to Lakshmi- the goddess of fertility and prosperity.
It would not be an interesting festival without food, sounds and fireworks. This is one of those occasions when Indian delicacies are prepared in homes and found on every street corner, sold by food vendors. Sweets mithai (dessert) are popular in India during the Diwali festival.
Of course the Diwali cannot also come and go without the popular rangoli designs.
The festival officially commences two days before the night of Diwali, and ends two days thereafter. Each day of the Diwali season comes with as assigned ritual and significance.
Diwali is one of the most popular and significantly celebrated festivals in Hindu communities.
In countries like like Fiji, Guyana, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, it is observed as an official holiday. It is celebrated annually in autumn.
The origin of the Diwali festival can be traced back to ancient India. It was celebrated after the summer harvest in the Hindu calendar month of Kartika.
Hindus all over the world celebrate Diwali in honor of the return of Lord Rama, wife Sita, brother Lakshmana and lord Hanuman to Ayodhya after 14 years. They had fled in exile after defeating Ravana, an arch antagonist in the ancient Hindu epic poem, Ramayana.
2. Spiritual Significance
From the spiritual realm, Diwali signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. It is a season of physical and spiritual newness.
During the Diwali, Hindus honor and pray to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth to grant them prosperity in their businesses. For this purpose, traditional earthenware oil lamps called diyas are lighted. Some leave their doors and windows open to create an entrance for the goddess.
3. A Season For Peace & Charity
Diwali is a season that calls for acts of charity, kindness, and for peace. Last year, a prominent billionaire rewarded his employees with 1,260 cars & 400 flats.
For instance, every year the Indian and Pakistani forces make an exchange of peace offerings during the Diwali.
4. Good Business Season
The celebration typically comes with a fair. Thus a lot of buying and selling goes on before and during the occasion.
Food stalls are set up, selling sweet and spicy foods as displays and performances of all kinds go on all through the festival. The Diwali in the Gujarati community marks the beginning of a New Year after and the beginning of a new business year. This is one of the reason why they say prayers to the goddess for a prosperous year ahead.
Market days known as the Melas are observed in towns and villages. This creates an opportunity for countryside farmers to buy and sell their wares while rural families shop for clothes, utensils and other products.
5. When Is Diwali Celebrated
From the Gregorian calendar, Diwali night falls between mid-October and mid-November. This year, the Diwali festival falls on Thursday October 19.
Diwali is a five-day festival with Diwali night centering on the new moon(the darkest night). This is usually at the end of the Hindu lunar month of Ashvin and the start of the month of Kartika.