Happy Holidays: Celebrating the Festival of Diwali

Diwali21-548x523This is an exciting time to be in India. The annual celebration of lights is here and everyone is delighted to celebrate with friends and family. Gifts, dry fruits, and sweets are being distributed between families, friends, and colleagues. Celebrations also involve lighting lamps, candles, decorating homes with strings of light, and most enjoyably, bursting crackers. Kids and adults alike stack up crackers over a period of weeks and light up the night sky with colorful firework display.

Based on the Hindu mythology from Ramayana, Diwali celebrates Lord Ram’s much awaited return to Ayodhya with his wife Sita, and brother Lakshman. Ram had been banished from his kingdom and faced many hardships during his exile. After defeating Ravana in an epic battle, Ram and his family returned to his home city to much fanfare. His people loved him and welcomed him with open arms by decorating their homes with diyas (oil lamps).

This is the tradition that is being continued till date. Diwali has become an occasion where families prepare their homes to welcome the blessings of their gods. Lord Ganesha (the god of intelligence) and Goddess Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth) are also worshipped. Families travel far and wide to meet their loved ones and spend the festival together. Homes are decorated with lights a couple of weeks earlier and elaborate and beautiful rangolis (colorful floor designs) are made. Great care is taken to make sure everything in the home is beautiful enough to please the gods.

Growing up in a multi-religious environment, Indians appreciate each others festivals with equal fervor. The start of Diwali festivities starts with Bakri Id followed by Dussehra. So the actual preparations start almost a month in advance. Businesses start stocking sweets, gifts, and decorations much earlier. People celebrate with each other, regardless of religious convictions because at the heart of it, these festivals celebrate the triumph of good over evil, which is the primary message of all religions as well. Id and Diwali therefore, are communal celebrations instead of religious festivals. The sense of brotherhood, community, peace and harmony is a proud feeling for all Indians.

Here is wishing you all a very happy Diwali. Hope you have a joyous year ahead.