Today ,my family and friends celebrate the Hindu festival of Diwali or Deepavali. This festival is celebrated by Hindus all over the world each with their own unique customs and traditions. In India it is a 5 day long celebration and in other parts of the world it is a Public Holiday/Bank Holiday. Here in South Africa we have to take a day off work to celebrate this festival.
Diwali is known as the festival of lights. During this festival Hindu home are lit that evening with lamps which are said to be a pathway welcoming God into our homes. According to the Hindu calendar is it also New Year Celebrations. So often when asked by non Hindu friends what is Diwali I often reply the Indian version of Christmas. The lit lamps at night are significant of Good over Evil. In the Hindu scriptures of the Ramayan, Lord Rama,his wife Mother Sita ,his brother Laxman and his beloved devotee Lord Hanuman returned to his Kingdom after an exile of 14 years. As the night was very dark ,homes lit lamps welcoming their King home. The story of the Ramayan is one of good conquering evil. During Diwali Mother Laxmi the Goddess of Wealth is also prayed to so she beings good health and wealth to the household.
As a child ,I loved Diwali but these days I have a different view on this festival. Prior to the festival there is a buzz of activity in the home from spring cleaning to decorating to preparing sweet treats. Diwali is a time when Hindu families exchange gifts and sweets to their friends and family wishing them a Blessed year ahead. There would be like always in an Indian home during a celebration too much food over eating is a common problem of the day. As a child I recall getting up very early on Diwali and Mum and Gran busy in the kitchen with the radio on full blast with popular Bollywood tracks playing. The night before Mum prepares a mixture of three different oils for the traditional oil bath that one has that morning. Literally all we use is a few drops on our head and body as a form of cleansing. New clothes are worn on this special day and YES even now as an adult I always wear something new. Traditional Indian clothing is often worn. Homes are decorated with flowers and Rangoli patterns outside the door to welcome the festival. Special meals are prepared and sweets to offer visitors.
Mum has always opted to buy gifts of chocolates , nuts or biscuits instead of the traditional Indian sweets to give to friends and family. The reasoning behind this is ,is that there are too many sweets to eat and the gifts Mum buys can be eaten at a later stage. I too have followed in my mum’s ways and buy the same for my friends. As a kid after lunch ,Mum would pack up the car with boxes of gifts and a long list of drop offs and off we would go. Each stop meant going inside the home of family or friends to wish them and deliver sweet treats. But one never left without eating a sweet or having a rich drink and not forgetting the box or trays of sweets you are given to take home. As we got older , Mum’s list got very small and we dont go to do drop offs . As it begins to darken, prayers are observed and then it is time for the evening part of the festival. Lamps are lit outside the home and then the Fireworks start. I am not a fan of Fireworks I stand far away and admire. We have never really had a Fireworks display at home as my parents were not keen on burning money and the mess that the Fireworks left. Since my two furkids have arrived I see how the big bangs affect them and it is not good seeing them so afraid . I visit my Vet prior to Diwali to get meds to keep my Furkids calm.
The feeling of Diwali no longer exists for me as our home feels empty without my Dad and Grandad. To me Diwali is more of a spiritual festival of connecting with my soul, overcoming the dark elements in my life and replacing it with all things positive and bright like the lamps that are lit for Diwali.
I will be still getting up early ,having my oil bath and wearing new clothes. Mum and Gran will not be in the kitchen as I will be cooking up a storm of sonething delicious. A quiet day at home will be spent with my cousin coming over for tea in the afternoon.
Wishing all my Hindu family,friends and readers around the world a Blessed Diwali. May your homes and life be filled with the lamps of light and positivity. Think about the less fortunate during this time and look after your pets.
What festivals do you celebrate? How do you celebrate Diwali ?
Be Inspired !