The Blessings of Diwali, Festival of Lights

The Blessings of Diwali, Festival of Lights

The festival, which coincides with the Hindu New Year, celebrates new beginnings, the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness.

Diwali, also known as Deepawali, Deepavali- is the Hindu festival of lights, celebrated by millions of Hindus across the world. During Diwali, people perform cleansing rituals, decorate their homes, gather for special feasts, and light fireworks. Diwali is the most awaited and the most celebrated festival in India.

The Diwali illuminations with lighted diyas bring the supernatural brightness and joy with the hope of finding light in the darkness, achieving knowledge where there is ignorance, and spreading love amidst hatred.

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Light is significant in Hinduism because it signifies goodness. So, during the Festival of Lights, traditional   ‘earthen lamps’ with cotton wicks and oil is lit and placed around the house to decorate it. While each faith has its own reason to celebrate the festival, one of the most popular stories told is the legend of  Rama and his wife Sita returning to their kingdom in northern India from exile after defeating the demon king Ravanna in the 15th century BC.

It begins with Dhanteras, a day dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Kubera, the two deities of wealth. Worshippers mark the occasion by praying for the prosperity, success, and well-being of their loved ones. They also invite the gods into their homes and businesses by decorating entrances with colorful lanterns and rangolis, patterns created using materials like colored rice, lentils, flowers, and powder. Since purchases are considered auspicious, many people treat themselves to beautiful jewelry, clothing, or household goods.

The second day, called Kali Chaudas, or Narak Chaturdashi, is observed in different ways. For some, it is a day to abolish laziness and drive away demons from homes with traditional rituals. Others think of it as “Choti (small) Diwali” and use it as an excuse to start the festive celebrations early with feasts and fireworks.

Diwali celebrations begin early on the third day with a visit to a place of worship, such as a temple, to seek the deities’ blessings. Families and friends then get together to exchange gifts and sweets. Those not satisfied with their Dhanteras shopping haul head to the malls to purchase additional items. At sunset, festival observers worldwide light up their homes with glittering diyas — small oil lamps — and share delicious, traditional food with their loved ones.

The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing people to get more creative about celebrating the all-important festival. Shuttered temples are offering online prayer sessions allowing worshippers to commemorate the event from the safety of their homes. To make up for the cancellation of public events, some cities are planning to live stream fun activities like yoga, cooking tutorials, diya lighting, and a dance party. Since large gatherings are discouraged, many families are hosting virtual parties over Zoom or other online video sites to celebrate with their loved ones.

Diwali is a unifying event. It can soften even the hardest of hearts. It’s a time when people mingle about in joy and embrace one another. Our inner spiritual ears will clearly hear the voice of the sages. The vibrations crackers produced by the greetings of love, which fill the atmosphere powerful. However, they all symbolize the victory of lighting over the darkness.

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