Oyku Cicek Butun Staff reporter, The Pawprint
Diwali is a major religious holiday in Hinduism, the holiday lasts five days, starting from the 13th day of the lunar month, Ashvina, to the second day of Karttika. According to the Gregorian calendar the days fall between late October and November, this year it is predicted to start on the 27th of October.
The name Diwali is derived from the Sanskrit word deepavali which means “row of lights” which are lit on the new moon night to invite the presence of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. In Bengal the goddess Kali is worshipped, but in North India the festival also celebrates the return of rama, Sita, Lakshmi, and Hanuman to the city of Ayodhya, where Rama’s rule of righteousness commences.
Although there are many stories surrounding Diwali one of the most popular stories told is the legend of Lord Rama and his wife Sita returning to their kingdom in northern India from exile after defeating the demon king Ravanna in the 15th century BC. Even though different parts of India celebrate Diwali due to different stories the main theme which runs throughout is the celebration of light over darkness and good over evil.
During the festival, small earthenware filled with oil are lit and placed in rows along the parapets of templates, houses, and set a drift in rivers and streams. The main Diwali festival starts on the fourth day, this is also the beginning of Karttika, this marks the beginning of the new year according to the Vikrama calendar. Merchants perform religious ceremonies and open new account books. It is generally a time for visiting, exchanging gifts, cleaning and decorating houses, feasting with colors and special designs,setting off fireworks displays, and wearing new clothes.
The food most closely associated with the festival is Indian sweets, which come in a range of colours and flavours. The celebration however features various rich savoury and sweet dishes, and while eating out is popular, families will mostly prepare food at home for when guests arrive to exchange gifts and watch fireworks.
Diwali is a color filled festival, it’s almost like a clean slate for people to be happy, share time with family and have a fresh start, as well as to celebrate their religious history. No matter which religion or what part of India celebrates the festival it is always a guarantee that it’ll be fun and colorful.