Diwali – Festival of Lights

This week Saanika and her family shared what Diwali means to them and their community.  

Popularly known as “the festival of lights”, Diwali is India’s most important festival of the year-a time to celebrate the ultimate triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil. Celebrated over five days, Diwali is marked by decorating and lighting homes and offices, prayers and rituals, feasts, fireworks, gifting and gatherings, and for some, Diwali is also the beginning of a new year. Diwali holds a special significance for business owners as well. The days leading up to Diwali are marked by fervent deep cleaning of homes and places of business, signifying that cleaning will get rid of negativities and usher in all things good and prosperous. Households are filled with aromas wafting out through kitchens, where delicious Faraal-savoury and sweets are prepared to be enjoyed at home as well as for sharing with family and friends. Diwali, derived from Sanskrit Dipavali, meaning “row of lights,” is known for the brightly burning clay lamps that people line up outside their homes. The lighting of diyas and lamps is seen as the eradication of darkness, as we move towards a bright and hopeful future. Amongst other beliefs, for most Hindus, the festival of Diwali is the celebration of Lord Ram’s return to Ayodhya after his exile of 14 years and victory over Ravana.  It is said that the people of Ayodhya welcomed Ram, his wife Sita and brother Lakshman with rows of  diyas, lighting the entire kingdom. 

This year, Diwali is going to be celebrated from Oct 22-26. During these five days, we decorate our homes with Torans-garlands made up of marigold flowers, put up on doors and around the home, Rangoli-intricate designs made with coloured powders, and diyas-earthen lamps filled with oil or wax, and put-up colourful lanterns and fairy lights outside our homes and places of business. We enjoy doing a few fireworks at night with family and friends. 

The first day of Diwali is called Dhan Teras. On this day, we perform Lakshmi Poojan, which is the worship of Goddess Lakshmi- known as the goddess of wealth and prosperity. People also consider it auspicious to buy gold on this day.  

The second day of Diwali is called Kali Chaudas. On this day, it is considered auspicious to wake up early in the morning and take a bath with Ubtan-a natural paste made out of kitchen staples, rosewater and essential oils, which is supposed to be very good for the skin. 

The main Diwali day falls on the third day. This day is marked by a pooja at our place of business. We worship Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Ganpati and our books of accounts-this is called Chopda Poojan. Regarded as the main pillars of doing business, new books of accounts are purchased on Dhan teras day, and worshipped on Diwali day, so as to seek blessings for good business over the entire year. 

New year or Bestu Varas day falls on the fourth day of Diwali. For us, this is a day where we start using our new books of accounts worshipped on the previous day. New year day is also celebrated by going to a temple early in the morning, taking blessings of our elders and also visiting homes of close family and friends, wishing everyone a happy new year! 

Bhai beej is the fifth and last day of the Diwali festival. On this day we all dress up and brothers and sisters celebrate their special bond. Sisters bless their brothers in a ceremony by putting a saffron dot on their fore head and in return,  brothers give sisters gifts or money! 

That is The Festival of lights – Diwali! 

Happy Diwali…Have fun and enjoy!