At this time of year many people in Britain will think of the more obvious winter holidays; Halloween, Bonfire Night and Christmas. In recent years, the popularity of supporting Diwali has risen in the UK and the Hindu tradition is now celebrated by the masses nationwide. This year Diwali falls on Tuesday 11th November.
- Diwali is known as “The Festival of Lights”.
- Little clay lamps called “diyas” are lit during Diwali.
- On Diwali you make offerings to Lakshmi and Ganesh for wealth and good luck.
- Diwali is a national holiday in India, Trinidad & Tobago, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Guyana, Surinam, Singapore, Malaysia and Fiji.
- Diwali is the beginning of the financial year for Indian businesses
- Diwali marks the end of the harvest season in India
So what is Diwali?
Originating in India as a celebration of light, it is celebrated by not only Hindus but Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains. The word Diwali actually hails from the word “deepavali” which means “row of lamps”, these lamps are the link to the festival of lights today and are called “diyas”. Nowadays, people will make these lamps using air-drying clay and tea candles, the lights are spread around the home for the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi and the Hindu God Ganesh to bring good luck and prosperity, ultimately representing a victory in good over evil.
This is one of the most important days of the year in Hindu culture, houses are cleaned thoroughly so that when the “diyas” are lit, it will be the most suitable environment for Lakshmi and Ganesh to enter and give their blessings to the family for the coming year. It is important to refrain from eating meat during the celebration and traditional families will offer flowers, rice pudding, fruit and other gifts to the Goddess these are given during a “puja”, which involves sacred words and singing. As an easy way to get your establishment involved in this cultural celebration, you can help children to create their own “diyas” using air-drying clay and colourful paints, you can also get them to offer gifts to one another. It’s always good to inform our younger generation about all religious celebrations in our multi-cultural society!
Do you celebrate Diwali? Share your comments below.