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Diwali – Festival of Lights

Diwali FireworksDiwali – the festival of lights is one of the major Hindu festivals celebrated each year.  It is celebrated every Autumn and this year falls on Sunday the 30th October.

So what is Diwali all about? Well in a nutshell, Diwali is the spiritual signification of victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and, hope over despair.

Coming up to the festival of lights, there is a lot of preparation to be made which usually take place on the 2 days leading up to the festival with the 3rd day being the actual festival itself. There are 2 further days of celebration after Diwali taking the festival over a span of 5 wonderful days. . Millions of lights are hung outside in  varying places – doors, windows, temples and any other building where they have permission. Not only are lights put up to be observed but also, before Diwali evening many people clean, decorate and even renovate their houses. After the cleansing, families participate in Puja (this means prayers). The prayers are to the goddess of prosperity and fertility – Lakshmi. So after prayers, this is when the celebrations begin, firstly bright and beautiful fireworks followed by a big feast. After the feast families exchange gifts.

Because of the cleaning, restorations, feasts and gifts etc, Diwali is one of the biggest shopping seasons in India. Everyone loves to shop 🙂

Diwali is such a happy and significant festival for Hindu’s however, did you know that there are other religions that celebrate it too? Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists celebrate Diwali too although, their celebrations mark different significant events to their religions. The different religions may celebrate different events, they all celebrate victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and good over evil.

As mentioned the preparation for the festival of lights takes place over 5 days and something different is done on each day;

Day 1 – Dhanteras
This is the day that the cleaning, renovations and decorating takes place. Entrances are decorated by women and children in nice bright and colourful designs. The men and the boys are in charge of putting up the outside lights and finishing off any renovations. Dhanteras celebrates both the birthday of Lakshmi and Dhanvantari. This is also a major shopping day.

Day 2 – Nakara Chaturdasi
Typically this day is for house decoration and creating colourful floor patterns called Rangoli. Some regions also have special bathing rituals which are then followed by minor prayers. Womenlakshmi are busy decorating their hands with Henna designs whilst the family prepare homemade sweets (mithai).

Day 3 – Laksmi Puja
If you have been reading the above you will be able to guess that this day is dedicated to offering prayers to Lakshmi.  This is also the main festival day. As the evening approaches, families will put on new or their best clothes and then light lamps and offer puja to Lakshmi. After the prayers people go out to celebrate with their fireworks. The fireworks are a great way to celebrate Diwali however they have another purpose which is to chase away evil spirits.. After the fireworks there is  a marvellous feast.

Day 4 – Padwa
This is the day after Diwali. This day celebrates the love and devotion between husband and wife. The husband gives thoughtful and elaborate gits. Padwa in a way is as much celebrated by the married couples as they would a special anniversary.

Day 5 – Bhai Duj
The last day of the festivities this day celebrates the love and lifelong bond between siblings. The women and girls will go off and offer prayers for the wellbeing of their brothers and the men and boys do the same for wellbeing of their sisters. Prayers are then followed by everyone being together where possible and celebrating with a big feast, wonderful conversation and gifts.

Diwali is also a time for peace and charitable causes. Help others where possible.

Well there you have Diwali in a nutshell. Interesting eh??

I am not Hindu however I can certainly appreciate the beauty and sentimentality behind Diwali and think that one day it would be a wonderful celebration to behold.

HAPPY DIWALI EVERYONE!!!!