We just celebrated Diwali in India, a major Hindu festival, 5 days of rejoicing in the Inner Light – Atman (or the underlying Reality of all things, depending on your leaning). On the surface, this festival is all about fireworks, candle light, buttery sugary sweets, and large groups of family-sized pilgrim groups!
The five day celebration period was a mixed-bag for me. On the one hand, smokey skies and sudden bangs in the night aren’t really my cuppa tea.
On the other hand, I like sweets. I like lights. I love lamp. (couldn’t find the whole clip, but if you’ve seen Anchorman, you know what I’m talkin’ about!) Landing in Varanasi for the holiday has given me a great excuse to be extra friendly with everyone, wishing them a happy Diwali and asking about their family celebrations and business luck.
Each of the five days calls for specific kinds of puja (religious ceremony), more lights and fireworks for Lakshmi day, 56 kinds of foods for Krishna’s day. The first day of the financial year also begins during the Diwali period.
A Few Holiday Facts
- “Diwali” is a shortened version of the Sanskrit दीपावली Dīpāvalī
- It’s known by its traditional expression in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore, and Fiji where it’s also an official holiday
- Lights are placed outside of homes to welcome the god Rama
- Though it is one of the major Hindu festivals, Buddhists also celebrate the conversion of King Ashoka to Buddhism during this time, Sikhs celebrate the release from prison of the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, while the Jains celebrate the enlightenment of Lord Mahavira, the last of the Jain Tirthankaras. (Wikipedia)
And as a final word, from the advertisement our yoga studio placed in the paper: Wishing all the darkness of ignorance, corruption, disease and violence disappears in the light of spirituality and reason this Diwali 2011. Om Namah Shivayah