Our Beautiful Human Family Corner: Holiday Spotlight on Diwali
Diwali (sometimes called “Deepavali”) is the Indian festival of lights. While originally a Hindu festival, Diwali has since become a major cultural festival in India symbolizing the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. In the build-up to the festival, households clean their homes and decorate them with small clay lamps known as diyas and colorful designs drawn on the floor using colored rice flour known as rangoli. Households also make and share various Indian sweets and desserts, and it is common for friends and family to share presents with each other. It is also a common tradition for people—especially children—to get up very early on the day of the festival to bathe and wear new clothes. By far however, the most exciting part of Diwali is the tradition of lighting fireworks on the night before (and of) the festival.
In India, Diwali is usually celebrated over the course of five days, with each day entailing a different set of activities and traditions. It is on the second day of the festival that people adorn their homes with diyas and colorful rangoli. On the third day of the festival, people offer prayers (puja) to Lakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of wealth. This is also the day on which households cook elaborate multi-course meals and share Indian sweets with each other, and in the evening begin the tradition of lighting fireworks—often through the night. The next day, the fourth day, is the first day of the Hindu New Year.
Diwali is India’s biggest and most festive holiday – one that children look forward to each year.