The world is full of the festival of lights. Japan is famous for its Aomori Nebuta Matsuri. Spain has its version of the festival of lights, commonly called Las Fallas. The Jews celebrate Hanukkah. China is also famous for its lantern festival.
If you go to the Netherlands, one of the events that can complete your escapade is St. Martin’s Day, the country’s version of Halloween takes place every Nov. 11 every year.
In India, its Hindu festival of light is one of the most important and the country’s biggest holidays and even in different corners of the world.
It is celebrated during the Hindu month of Karttika. It is a festival that symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness (good vs. evil). Aside from the glistening lights, followers of the Hindu faith prepares a sumptuous feast.
The Hindu Festival of Light is commonly known as Diwali that lasts for 5 days. It starts from the 13th day of the dark half of Ashvina to the 2nd day of the light half of Karttika. Diwali comes from Dipavali, a Sanskrit term, which means a row of lights.
What is Diwali, and Why Is It Celebrated?
Diwali, also called Deepawali, is a festival of lights celebrated in India and other parts of the world. But why is it commemorated? Here are a few possible reasons:
–Goddess Lakshmi’s Birth. Diwali is celebrated as a commemoration of Goddess Lakshmi’s birth from Samudra Amntham. Lakshmi even married Vishnu on the night of Deepawali.
- Mahavira Nirvana Diwas. The Festival of Light is also celebrated in Jainism to observe the anniversary of Nirvana of Mahavira’s soul.
- End of the harvest season. While there are debates on where the Festival of Lights has originated, many people consider Diwali as a harvest festival.
- Diwali signifies a new year. The Festival of Light also signifies the beginning of a new year, especially in India’s northern Hindu communities and Gujarat.
–The Rescue of Lakshmi. People of Hindu descent perform the Hindu Festival of Light as they believe it is when Lord Vishnu rescued Lakshmi from King Bali’s prison. Then, Lord Vishnu ordered King Bali to banish in the netherworld. –The Killing of Narakusa. Lord Krishna, Lord Vishnu’s avatar, killed the king of Pragjyotishapura. Narak Chaturdashi is recognized as the day where Lord Krishna killed the evil king. But it is only common in southern Tamil, Telugu communities, northern India, and parts of Assam.
How Many Days Does the Festival of Lights Last?
Diwali is a five-day festival. Dhanteras is the first event of the festival, where people perform a ritual commonly called pooja or puja. Hindus also place tea lights in the entryways and balconies of their homes.
The second day is Narak Chaturdashi, where regions have different ways of celebrating it. Most people typically spend time at home. Then, they generally exchange sweets with their closest friends, relatives, and family as well.
The Lakshmi Puja is the main day of celebration on the 3rd day. It is believed to be the most important day to worship Lakshmi. During Lakshmi Puja, families usually dress up, gather to pray, share meals, and light fireworks. There are plenty of activities that take place during the Lakshmi Puja.
The fourth day is the Govardhan Puja. While the third day is to worship goddess Lakshmi, the fourth day is associated with the Gujarati new year and Lord Krishna. People prepare a mountain of food offerings for puja.
Finally, during the last day, Bhaiya Dooj, brothers visit their sisters and give them some sweets and perform special rituals to celebrate and strengthen the bond between siblings.
How do Hindus Celebrate Diwali?
Many people believe that Diwali is only about lighting candles, clay lamps, or firecrackers. But it goes beyond that.
People of Hindu descent start cleaning their homes. They also shop for kitchen utensils and gold because it is believed to bring good fortune.
After that, Hindus decorate their homes with many clay lamps. They also create rangoli, a design pattern, on their floors using sand, colored powders, and other unique materials.
After a few tiring days, families gather to offer a prayer to Lakshmi. It is followed by grand firework festivities and sumptuous feasts, one of the most awaited events during the Festival of Light.
As people eat some foods from Indian cuisine, they can watch the sky turn like a well-lit Christmas tree. It is illuminated with beautiful fireworks.
During the first day of the new year (the fourth day of the Festival of Light), relatives and close friends visit homes to give their best wishes and other presents.
The Diwali ends when brothers visit their married siblings, specifically their sisters. Then, they are usually welcome with a lavish meal and love too.
But because of the coronavirus, people of Hindu origin made their Diwali celebration as not as grand as before for everyone’s welfare.
What Do You Give for Diwali?
During the Hindu Festival of Light or Diwali, activities include creating sand art (Rangoli) and lighting firecrackers/candles.
Shopping or exchanging gifts is also part of the celebration. During the ancient times, Indian households exchanged their farm produce because farming is their number one source of livelihood.
Over the years, gift-giving changed, but the essence of the Festival of Light remained the same.
What specific present would you give to your loved ones, close friends, and other relatives? Here are some best gift ideas to consider:
Statues. The Hindu Festival of Light is a time for worshiping. Indians seek the blessings of Lord Ganesha, Goddess Lakshmi, and the Goddess of Kai. When searching for a spiritual gift for a friend or sibling, statues of gods or goddesses are among the best presents to give during Diwali.
Handmade Candles. Who does not want to add a personal touch to your gifts during the Festival of Lights? Every Indian loves that. While there are many options to choose from, handmade candles are a perfect idea. Plus, you can purchase something customized.
Ethnic Pieces of Jewelry. Another gift idea is a piece of jewelry that best represents your ethnicity. It can be a necklace or an earring, depending on what you like. An item of ethnic clothing is another excellent alternative. For men, give them a sherwani or kurta. For women, a silk skirt or sari is the best.
Other gift ideas include solar lawn lights, potted house plants, watches, homemade sweets, gift hamper, spiritual DVDs, gift vouchers, and more.
How Should I Dress for a Diwali Party?
Traditionally, women wear Saree, Salwar kameez, and lehenga choli. Men, on the other hand, wear kurta and sherwani.
How about the colors of your traditional attire. This varies based on your preferences. If you appreciate the structure of a specific item you wear, neutral tones of brown, gold, silver, and white are perfect.
If you are into celebrating the joyful air of the Festival of Light, bright colors are a good option. In 2017, popular color choices included fuchsia, sunny yellow, cobalt blue, red, and bright green.
If you have chosen the right color that suits your taste, your job does not stop there. Don’t forget the metal accents. Diwali outfits include silver or gold pieces of jewelry. A few of the most coveted items during the Hindu Festival of Lights include nose rings, bangles, earrings, necklaces, nose rings, and chokers.
For footwear, women can use a pair of coordinating pumps and strappy heels. For men, wear embroidered or leather loafers to give your fashion statement a boost.