Nishall’s Blog: The Festival of Light

Lifestyle / Mon 16th Oct 2017 at 03:54pm

Nish 17

The Festival of Light – Diwali

ON Thursday 19th October, it’s Diwali, so I thought being a Hindu I would share this festival with you.

Hundreds of millions of people in India and around the world are set to celebrate Diwali. Popularly referred to as the “Festival of Lights”, Diwali is a five-day Hindu holiday marking the triumph of good over evil. Light a candle and join us as we celebrate this resplendent day!

Like other aspects of Hinduism—the world’s oldest religion—the origins of Diwali are ancient. And, like Hinduism, observance of Diwali is richly varied among the faith’s 800 million adherents. It’s likely, however, that the celebration has its roots in ancient South Asian harvest festivals. For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important holidays of the year and is celebrated by families together in their homes.

Diwali (a contraction of the Sanskrit ‘deepavali’ which translates into ‘row of lights’) involves the lighting of small clay lamps filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. These lamps are kept on during the night in order to ensure Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of happiness, feels welcome. Hindus believe that she roams the earth during the festival and enters those houses that are pure, clean, and bright—bringing with her good fortune. Also Rama is the hero of the story of Diwali, rescuing the kidnapped Sita from her captor Ravana. She is then rescued by Rama and Hanuman. In this story of Diwali, diya are used to light the way for Rama and Sita’s return home.

During the season firecrackers are lit in order to drive away evil spirits and many families draw a colorful rangoli, a decorative pattern made in rice flour, at the entrance of their home. Friends, family, and neighbors visit to share in food and festivities, as well as little treats such as khil (rice puffs) and patashe (sugar disks). Puja, the worship of deities, takes place at home and at temples with prayers and other offerings.

Diwali is an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji. However, the largest Diwali celebration outside of India takes place in Leicester, England’s Golden Mile section.

So why don’t you release your creative flair and try your hand at your own Rangoli, a traditional style of folk art whereby colourful patterns are created on the floor. Customarily colourful offerings are made using coloured rice, dry flour or flower petals. The patterns are seen as sacred welcoming areas for Hindu Deities, and the designs are passed down from one generation to the next.

And on that note, I wish everyone a very Happy Diwali and I hope you can join the celebrations with us by lighting a candle, showing good triumph over evil.

Happy Diwali Everyone!

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