Diwali, a five-day-long “festival of lights” that celebrates the triumph of good over evil, began this week. The holiday emerged from the Hindu religion, but has become a cultural event around the world. We could all use a little celebration of triumph over evil, right now.
In Hindu culture, the holiday comes from the story of Rama and Sita’s defeat over the evil demon King Ravana. Check out the video below for the whole tale.
How to celebrate
Author and consultant Anjula Devi says in her article Diwali – The true meaning, “It’s very important just before Diwali that the house is cleaned. It has to be spotless. This is done so that you can sweep out any clutter. It is also a time for people to reflect and free their hearts of anything which has been troubling them or casting a shadow over their lives.”
Wish for prosperity
Diwali is a time to get rid of the old and usher in the new. In the days leading up to the festival of lights, celebrants pray to Laksmi, the goddess of prosperity and overall wealth.
With the pandemic raging, these prayers and rituals are happening a bit differently this year. As journalist and editor Raakhi Chotai observes, “This year there will be bhajans [prayers] on a Zoom call.”
Decorate and eat sweets
Traditionally during this time homes are decorated with vibrant colourful Rangoli. Rangoli are intricate patterns drawn on the floor with flowers, sand, rice and flour. Create your version of Rangoli with colourful sand and paper.
Holidays wouldn’t be the same without desserts, and Diwali is no different. Times of India has a list of treats traditionally eaten on the holiday, such as Gulab Jamun, a dessert made with rose water, sugar, milk powder and cardamom.
Light candles and rejoice
The main event of Diwali is the most exciting. Celebrated on the third day and the darkest night of the year, the new moon. The rituals include fireworks to symbolise the return of Rama and Sita and Lakshmana to the Kingdom of Ayodha. Due to the pandemic these celebrations may be minimized, but the most common tradition — lighting “Diyas,” or clay pots with oil and cotton wicks, will still be going strong.