Diwali is the five day festival of light and it coincides with the Hindu new year to celebrate new beginnings, good over evil and light over darkness. It also celebrates the gracious nature of the three goddesses, Lakshmi, Kali and Sarawati.
Diwali takes place at a different time each year and is dependent on the Hindu lunar calendar, governed by the cycle of the moon. This year, Diwali takes place from Wednesday 11th to Sunday 15th November.
Everyone has their own reasons for celebrating the festival but one of the most popular stories told is the legend of Lord Rama & his wife Sita. They returned to their kingdom in Northern India from exile after defeating the demon King Ravanna in the 15th century BC.
Our foster carer, Charan, took time out from her busy preparations to tell us about her family’s Diwali traditions.
“Diwali is a very exciting time in our household. We prepare for it by cleaning & decorating our home with garlands of fresh flowers, scented candles & lights outside our home and we send Diwali cards to our friends, relatives and those dear to us, it’s a lovely way of keeping in touch.
One of the nicest things is that all family members will dress in new clothes at Diwali, us ladies and girls will generally wear a new traditional outfit such as a sari or salwar/kameez and we decorate our hands/feet with pretty Henna patterns.
Our whole family, both near and extended, gathers at our home to eat food and indian sweets that have been specially prepared for the occasion, and we will also exchange gifts of money, clothing, jewellery or household items.
The candles & diva’s will stay alight until they burn themselves out and then during the evening, we will go to the local Mandir (Hindu Temple) to offer ‘pooja’ (prayers) and light candles.
The evening will end with a huge display of fireworks to mark the ‘festival of light’.”
The Five Days of Diwali
Day 1 – known as Dhanteras. This day is dedicated to celebrating prosperity, Goddess Lakshmi is welcomed into the family home.
Day 2 – known as Naraka Chaturdasi. This is when Goddess Kali & Lord Krishna are believed to have destroyed the demon Narakasura on this day.
Day 3 – known as Amavasya, considered to be the darkest day of the month & is the most significant day of the Diwali festival. Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped on this day.
Day 4 – is celebrated as the start of the Hindu new year. It is celebrated as the day when Lord Krishna defeated Indra (the god of thunder & rain).
Day 5 – is known as ‘Bhai Duj’. It is dedicated to celebrating sisters whereby brothers & sisters get together and share food to honor the bond between them.