Diwali – Festival of Light
Tuesday, November 18, 2020
“Light the lamp of love within you and move forward.” Amma
Diwali is a much loved Indian festival, especially by children, widely known for its symbolic lighting of the oil lamp at dusk. This tradition, however, holds deeper meanings. Amma emphasises the underlying importance of igniting the inner light of love and compassion. The practice further signifies Lord Rama’s return to his kingdom after 14 years of exile. To welcome their king, the delighted people lit the oil lamps in front of and inside their freshly cleaned homes.
This year, Diwali was celebrated in many homes with COVID restrictions.
Many places have their own unique traditions. In Rajasthan, the men of the family prepare special local delicacies such as Laddu, Barfi, Pakaudi and Jalebi.
Rangoli making, a unique floor decoration, is a tradition for gurukulam children in the states of Uttarakhand, Punjab, Bihar and Odisha.
In Bihar, the Lakshmi puja during Diwali includes crafting a house from cardboard for Lakshmi Devi. It is believed that the Supreme has allotted each deity a specific gift to bestow upon their devotees. Lakshmi Devi bestows wealth and prosperity.
On the 4th day of Diwali, a Govardhana Puja is offered by the Harirampura villagers in Rajasthan. A temporary hill made of cow dung and mud is erected by the village children in honour of Lord Krishna’s lifting of the Govardhana hill with his little finger. At night, all the villagers sit around it and offer a puja. As an offering of respect to plants and animals, Shiva’s vehicle, Nandi, is worshipped. Indeed, nature worship is an integral part of such pujas.
In Gujarat, Diwali is celebrated as the new year. In Nani Borvai, new brides celebrating for the first time in the village bring oil lamps house to house, in this way greeting all of the families. A few other women, young and elder, walk along with her, bringing much joy and happiness to this occasion.
On the fifth and final day of Diwali, sisters and brothers of all ages greet each other with gifts. Sisters promise to protect their brothers by applying tilak or kumkum paste to their foreheads.
While different traditions for celebrating Diwali can be found throughout India, there are also practices common to all. Visiting elders and teachers is one such tradition. The lighting of oil lamps in thoroughly cleaned homes is another. And of course, the distribution of local sweets is enjoyed by children and their families everywhere.