By Aziza Yaqubi –
Diwali is being celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains around the world this week – but what is Diwali, and when and how is it celebrated?
This article aims to give you a basic rundown of what you need to know about this unique cultural celebration.
What is Diwali?
For those unfamiliar with the tradition, Diwali is a religious and cultural festival commemorated in India and across the world by millions of Indians in a five-day celebration.
It is known by many as the Festival of Lights and celebrates the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness and wisdom over ignorance.
With firework displays, light clay lamps and bright, colourful art forms and festivities, the celebration can be a sight to behold.
The name ‘Diwali’ comes from the word ‘Deepavali’, which is a Sanskrit term meaning ‘rows of light lamps’.
The five-day festival features different ceremonies each day, including prayer services, gatherings, exchanging gifts and sweets, and festive events in celebration of the occasion, with the third day being the main event.
This is the second year in a row Diwali is being celebrated under the shadow of Covid-19, but the symbolism of the festival as a triumph of light over darkness seems particularly meaningful during times like this.
When does Diwali take place?
This year, Diwali begins on Thursday 4 November on the Gregorian calendar, however, the date changes annually and is determined by the position of the moon, following the Hindu lunar calendar.
As mentioned the celebrations take place over five days, and it is often appropriate to wish a happy Diwali to those celebrating on the first day of festivities.
How is Diwali celebrated?
Traditionally, the week leading up to Diwali starts with cleaning and redecorating the home, buying new clothes, and decorating the doorways and doormats with bright and colourful art forms called Rangoli.
The observance sees families and friends gather together to light candles, attend firework displays, decorate oil lamps and light candles around the home and participate in a range of Diwali traditions.
The ‘Festive of Lights’ is also widely associated with the Goddess Lakshmi, and Hindus will pay tribute to the Goddess Lakshmi, symbolising wealth, prosperity, good luck and fertility, as well as good fortune. Hindus believe the Goddess Lakshmi is the bringer of blessings and will bestow upon households of the homes she enters.
We hope you’ve found this information useful and informative, and wish everyone celebrating a happy Diwali!
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