The annual Hindu Diwali festival of lights symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance”.
It is a time that is described as” illuminating with its sheer magic and brilliance and dazzles people everywhere with joy and celebration”.
Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is marked by five days of celebration. Taking place all around India and in many different parts of the world including Gibraltar.
In 2020, Diwali is on November 14 as the festival is observed on the 15th day of Kartik, the holiest month in the Hindu lunar calendar, which falls in either October or November each year, depending on the cycle of the moon.
Diwali, Festival of Lights
The festival’s name comes from the row (avali) of clay lamps (deepa) that the devotees light in their houses in order to symbolize the inner light that drives away spiritual darkness.
Each of the five days in Diwali have their own significance and unique traditions that “fill people with good hope, love, peace and a rejuvenated mind, not to forget unadulterated happiness. The festival of Diwali fills everyone’s hearts with an aura of purity and a happy, compassionate mood.”
Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Newar Buddhists, although for each faith it marks different historical events and stories. For all, “the festival represents the same symbolic victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil.”
An annual homecoming
The festival is an annual homecoming period not only for families but also for communities and associations, particularly those in urban areas, with activities, events and gatherings organised for all to take part in.
Greetings are exchanged, with people wishing each other “May this Diwali be bright for you and your family. May God fulfill all your wishes this Diwali. Happy Diwali 2020! “
‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’ and none can explain this better than people who celebrate Diwali. The preparation for this grand festival starts with a lead-up preparing by the cleaning, renovating, and decorating of homes and workplaces with flowers, diyas, (oil lamps) and rangolis.
Rangolis, an art form “in which patterns are created on the floor or the ground using materials such as coloured rice, coloured sand, quartz powder or flower petals”
During Diwali itself, finest clothes are worn, the interior and exterior of homes are illuminated with diyas, ceremonies of worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and wealth, take place. Mithai (sweets) and gifts are shared at family feasts and given to friends to wish them luck and prosperity for the coming days.
“The festival is widely associated with Lakshmi, goddess of prosperity, with many other regional traditions connecting the holiday to Sita and Rama, Vishnu, Krishna, Yama, Yami, Durga, Kali, Hanuman, Ganesha, Kubera, Dhanvantari, or Vishvakarman.”
The power of Lakshmi – confronting negativity
Diwali is also recognised not just for the lights, fun-filled surprises and gifts and family get-togethers but also a time to reflect on one’s life, past deeds and making the right changes for the upcoming year and a celebration to give and forgive.
“People celebrate with an air of freedom, festivity, and friendliness everywhere and it is a common practice in Diwali for people to forget and forgive the injustices and grudges.
Diwali marks the birth of a new and rejuvenated soul
A happy and refreshed mind during Diwali charges up a person to make changes as a healthy, ethical individual, who will be more efficient in their work, and will also be spiritually advanced.”
“A celebration of prosperity, Diwali gives us the strength and the zeal to carry on with our work and goodwill for the rest of the year and thus, promising us success and prosperity. Thus, people give gifts to employees, family, and friends.
Most importantly, Diwali illuminates our inner self. The lights of Diwali also signify a time to destroy all our dark desires, dark thoughts, and have a deeper, inner illumination and self-reflection.”
Sow coriander on the day of Dhanteras and know how your future will be
The first day of Diwali is Dhanteras, which celebrates and welcomes good luck, wealth and prosperity. On Dhanteras people buy jewellery and utensils because any kind of metal is believed to ward off bad luck and usher in wealth and prosperity.
Dhanteras is followed by Chhoti Diwali and Diwali, the two most-awaited days of the festival and enjoyed the most. “The evening starts after performing Lakshmi puja (worship of Lakshmi and offering prayers to the gods), then lighting of diyas and setting off firecrackers with the entire atmosphere reverberating in a festive note”. On the fourth day, Govardhan puja is performed and finally, Bhai Dooj marks the end of the festival.
Diwali has now begun, Saturday 14 November, and all of us in Gibraltar can join in and wish each other..”may your Diwali 2020 bring happiness prosperity and joy to you and all your family”.
Happy Diwali !