The Joyous Celebration of Diwali, 'The Festival of Lights' Is Happening Now All Around the World
Thursday kicked off Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights and India’s biggest holiday.
Thursday kicked off Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights and India’s biggest holiday. Diwali is celebrated by millions of Hindus, Jainis, Sikhs, and some Buddhists around the world that dates back more than 2,500 years. According to the Hindu Lunar calendar, Diwali takes place during the Hindu lunisolar month Kartika.
This ancient celebration revolves around the triumph of good over evil and the victory of light over darkness. It is about bringing peace and joy, and removing all doubt and negativity, illuminating our inner selves with clarity and positivity.
Diwali celebrations are a sacred and joyous time. Family and friends gather to eat together, exchange gifts, set off fireworks, and worship at their temples. It is also a time when the faithful pray to Lakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of Wealth so they receive blessings from her for health, wealth, and prosperity.
Yale University Hindu Chaplain Asha Shipman told Inside Edition Digital: “May Diwali be a time of sweetness, and friendship, well-being, and prosperity. May the diwi you light within and around your home nourish your own inner flame so that you may be a source of joy, radiance, and knowledge in this world,”
What does the holiday signify?
The word “Diwali,” comes from the Sanskrit word “Deepavali” which means “row of clay lamps.” This is the name traditionally known in India.
Many people celebrate Diwali by setting off fireworks, lighting candles, and decorating the inside and outside of their homes with lights to mark light over darkness.
In Northern India in the temple town of Ayodhya, little earthen oil lamps line the banks of the river. Ayodhya is believed to be the birthplace of the Hindu god, Lord Rama, Diwali is said to be the day he returned home after defeating a demon.
What is the history of Diwali?
Dr. Pankaj Jain, an internationally recognized academic leader in sustainability, Jain studies, film studies, and diaspora studies, and is also department head of Humanities and Languages and chair of The India Centre at FLAME University, told Inside Edition Digital that Diwali is traditionally linked with one of the most popular, most ancient, and the longest Sanskrit texts, Ramayana.
“In a slightly similar manner to the return of the hero in the Greek epic Odyssey, when Ramayana heroes return after accomplishing their mission, the entire city of Ayodhya lights up literally and figuratively to welcome their aircraft called Pushpak Viman,” Jain said. “
He continued. "Over the last several millennia, people across India and other Asian countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Burma, Cambodia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Mongolia, Iran, and Russia, have been noted as celebrating this "festival of lights.”
What does the five days of festivities involve?
There are a few rituals that are done over the course of the five-day celebration that centers on tradition and attracts the goodwill of spirits. And, there is much preparation leading up to the joyous event, explains Jani.
“The festivities begin at least two days before Diwali Day, when Hindus across the world worship their wealth, typically by doing rituals on their silver or gold coins, and other precious items,” Jain explained. “Many Ayurvedic practitioners also celebrate that day by revering to the Hindu deity of health called ‘Dhanvantari.'”
The next day, he explained, is the celebration of beauty, physical, mental, and spiritual. After that day is the main Diwali Day, he said, “in which once again the goddess of wealth, Laxmi, is worshipped with people dawning their new clothes relishing sweets and other delicacies with their family members.”
In Jainism, he said, this day is also “revered as the day when their last great teacher Mahavira attained liberation.”
Jain added: “The next day is to greet all family members and friends for the new Hindu year based on the Hindu lunar calendar. Finally, the fifth day celebrates the sacred bond between brothers and sisters,” Jain explained.
Other rituals include, cleaning the house, buying new clothing, furnishings, and kitchen utensils, all to help bring good fortune.
What are some of the traditional sweets and food people eat during this holiday?
Typically, people indulge in vegetarian delicacies that are mostly homemade, and made out of wheat flour, rice flour, dry fruits, lentils, and nuts, Jain said.
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