The ancient festival of lights known as Diwali (also known as Divali) is running Oct. 22 to Oct 26, with the most special of the celebration being today, Oct. 24.
Diwali is often referred to as the “Festival of Lights”, as people light the inside and outside of their homes with rows of lamps. The word Diwali itself is derived from the Sanskrit word, “Deepavali”, which means, “rows of lighted lamps”.
Many consider it the equivalent of western celebrations of Christmas, especially with lights decorating the homes and churches.
The exact date for Diwali is determined by the Hindu lunisolar calendar, which looks at the movement of both the moon and the sun from the Earth. The festival takes place in the middle of Karkita, the 8th month in the Hindu calendar. Some versions of the calendar also put Karkita as the 7th month.
The week is celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Buddhists as a symbol of victory over darkness with an emphasis on different traditions and legends throughout all regions of India.
Among Hindus, the most widespread custom is the lighting of diyas (the small earthenware lamps filled with oil) on the night of the new moon to invite the presence of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. During the festival, the diyas are placed in rows along the temples and houses and set adrift on rivers and streams. Homes are decorated, and floors inside and out are covered with ‘rangoli’, consisting of elaborate designs made of coloured rice, sand, or flower petals. The doors and windows of houses are kept open in the hope that Lakshmi will find her way inside and bless the residents with wealth and success.
In North India, the festival also celebrates the royal homecoming of Rama (along with Sita, Lakshmana, and Hanuman) to the city of Ayodhya after defeating Ravana, the 10-headed king of the demons, thus connecting the festival with the holiday of Dussehra.
In South India the festival marks Krishna’s defeat of the demon Narakasura.
Some celebrate Diwali as a commemoration of the marriage of Lakshmi and Vishnu, while others observe it as the birthday of Lakshmi.
In Sudbury, the best way to celebrate is with food, and you can enjoy the Diwali celebration that will be held at Sukhdev Restaurant in Sudbury.