Diwali: The Festival of Light, A Celebration of Life
Just as Christians regard Christmas as an important day, Diwali, also called Deepavali, is a religious occasion of incredible importance to Hindus. Diwali is a festival that runs for five days and literally means “Row of Lights”. Each day within the celebration is separated by a different tradition, but what remains consistent throughout the festival is the celebration of life.
Diwali signifies the triumph of good over evil, of righteousness over treachery, of truth over falsehood, and of light over darkness. For Hindus, this special time is the most festive, beautiful and well-known time of the year. It is a time that is filled with love and light, and the happiness and joy it brings with it is felt throughout the world.
A spiritual and religious occasion, Diwali is a time in which friends and family gather together to form a community performing Pooja and offering prayers to Maha Lakshmi. Maha Lakshmi is the goddess of prosperity and spiritual and material wealth. Her humility, devotion and love are worshipped and she is thanked for the things that she has blessed her people with. People also ask her for continuous blessings and peace for the future.
As South Africans, we are fortunate enough to live in a country which is rich in different cultures and which embraces many different religious occasions. Even if you do not celebrate Diwali, knowing more about the Festival of Light and about what is important to your Hindu friends and community members is a great way of supporting them.
Here are just a few Diwali traditions that you can observe to show extra support:
- Clean the house before the first day of Diwali. This is seen as a cleansing ritual to get rid of any unnecessary elements in your immediate environment.
- Make the entrance way to your home or business colourful using the traditional motifs or Rangoli designs. This is a joyful way to welcome the goddess of wealth and prosperity.
- Light lamps every night during the festival. The lamps symbolise knowledge which brings about inner peace and fights off any traces of darkness and ignorance.
- Bake traditional Indian sweets, snacks and savouries. These traditional offerings are offered as gifts.
- Go vegetarian. For many Indians, Diwali is a meatless holiday.
- Care for your sibling. Brothers and sisters practice sibling love and look after one another on the final day of Diwali. Give your sister a present or tell your brother that you love him.
- Join public space celebrations of Diwali. Even if you don’t practice Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, or Sikhism, you can still join in the Diwali celebrations that are held in many public spaces. Join in the fun and celebrate with the community.
This year Diwali will be taking place from Sunday, 30 October. Don’t forget to wish those around you a happy Diwali! And when you see beautiful lights on display, remember to take a moment to celebrate life and all of its treasures in your own way.
Click on the link for delicious, wholesome recipes that are packed with flavourful and aromatic spice.