Saturday, October 17, 2009


Diwali or Deepawali (in Sanskrit this means a "row of lamps") is probably the biggest festival in India. It is celebrated by Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains. Each religion emphasizes a different (and sometimes complex) aspect of this holy time. Diwali, in its most basic form, is a Festival of Lights. We went out and bought some of these little lamps (that's one of ours above). They're called diyas. After some head scratching (and the help of our trusted driver) we figured out we needed to get cotton wicks and mustard oil. Lighting them signifies victory of good over the evil within an individual and the welcoming return of the goddess Lakshmi.
The holiday in many ways reminds us of Christmas. Colorful lights are hung everywhere outside - in town centers, on buildings and temples. We put up our own - out on the balcony. Gifts are exchanged between friends, neighbors and loved ones. Candles and lamps are lit in the evening to light Lakshmi's way - the goddess of prosperity - to your doorstep.
Since this is a festival to share with friends we tried to jump right in! Last night we had some of our good neighbors over for snacks and chai. We exchanged simple gifts, our kids played, we all chatted and ate cake and namkeen and Indian sweets!And, oh yes, there is plenty of food during Diwali! Leading up to Diwali, the markets were filled with vendors making special gift packages and baskets. Special Indian sweets are prepared for sale in sweet shops.
For days leading up to the festival, fireworks (known as "crackers" here) are constantly heard going off in the distance. This is our first Diwali here in India. I think our whole family agrees that this festival of light is a very accessible, joyous and heartfelt occasion!


Deepender Sehajpal said...

Hi, I like ur posts, just wanted to let you know that Goddess Lakshmi is not Lord Rama's Wife, Lord Rama's wife was Sita, who was abducted by Demon King of Lanka who was killed by Lord Rama on the day when Dusshehera is celebrated - Diwali falls 20 days post Dussehera when Lord Rama travelled from Lanka to Ayodhya and it was a moonless night, thus every one lighted lamps to welcome and celebrate his victory...since then thousands of years back, the tradition continues, Goddess Lakshi (goddess of wealth) is the wife of Lord Vishnu (one of the trinity of Lords in Indian Hindu belief - other two being Shiva and Brahma - Brahma is the creator, Vishnu is the one who runs all affairs and Shiva is the destroyer in the trinity belief)...Why is Lakshmi worshipped on DiwALI IS very interesting concept though....regards Deepender

HouseBoy said...

Dhanyavaad for your catching that error. I am constantly learning about the Hindu faith and not surprisingly, get the relationships and histories mixed up sometimes.
Thanks again for reading (and for your feedback) :)