This week many people across the world will celebrate the festival of Diwali. Five days of festivities that start today October 17th. Depending on where you live or your cultural connections you may celebrate this festival yourself or you may not…..for me, it is a festival I adopted later on in life. Marrying into an Indian family has opened up a whole world of festivals (some of which I did not know existed) but they are all wonderful and Diwali is one of my favourites!
Diwali shifts its place each year according to the Hindu calendar. The festival preparations and rituals typically extend over a five-day period, but the main festival night of Diwali coincides with the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu calendar, which is this Thursday the 19th of October. To lift the darkness away people will light Diyas (little clay pots with oils and a wick) and candles throughout the home. Bright lights will be left on throughout the night to welcome the Goddess Lakshmi into the home, Lakshmi is the Goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity. The brighter the lights guiding her way, the greater the chance she will bestow wonderful things upon you.
Perhaps it is a festival you want to know a bit more about, the next five days marks the Diwali celebrations.
Day 1 October 17th Dhanteras
Dhan Teras – this day is an auspicious day for buying gold, silver and precious stones. Many Hindu’s purchase new things for the house. It is good day for buying. It is also known that on this day (many many centuries ago) Lord Dhanwantari is believed to have come out of the ocean with Ayurveda, the science of medicine, for the benefit of mankind. In recent years Ayurveda has become the go to for many people for health benefits and a quick trip to Wholefoods will allow you to see just how big Ayurvedic medicine and cosmetics are!
Perhaps you are on the fence about a purchase you want to make, if it helps, today is auspicious for buying new things…
Day 2 October 18th Choti Diwali
The second day of Diwali week is called the Kali Chaudas or Narak Chaturdasi. In some parts of India, it is simply the Choti Diwali, the day before Diwali.
On this day Lord Krishna is known to have destroyed the demon Narakasur, freeing the world from fear. It is believed that traditionally you should get massages with oil to relieve it of tiredness, bathe and rest, so that Diwali can be celebrated with vigour and devotion. It is also believed that you should stay at home and relax.
I think everyone would be happy to take on this part of the festival.
Day 3 October 19th Diwali
This is main day for celebrating Diwali and it is a day for family. Many families will get together in the evening for a Puja that worships the Goddess Lakshmi. People dress up, bring gifts, enjoy good food, light candles and have fireworks display.
A day for enjoyment and unity.
Day 4 October 20th –Bestu Baras
This day is celebrated in different ways across India and it will be different for each family. In the state of Gujarat it is seen as the New Year, in other parts of India it is traditionally a day where people would worship their instruments, their machinery, for many it was their trade and this day was devoted to their trade to ensure it would bring them prosperity throughout the year to come.
Day 5 October 21st – Teeka
The fifth day of Diwali festivities is celebrated as the Bhai Dooj or Bhai Beej or Bhai Teeka/ Tilak or Bhai Fota (In Bengal). Brothers will visit their sisters on this day, and the sisters celebrate and prepare sweets specially in honour of their brothers, wishing a long, happy, healthy life and great success for them.
Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights, it is one of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, it spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. It is a pretty incredible festival and because of its meaning, it can draw in people from all cultures to celebrate. Who doesn’t want to celebrate good winning over evil, or hope over despair?
I feel like we could all do with this festival in our lives.
The story behind Diwali is pretty epic and you can read more about it here,
As a mother of young children, one of my objectives is ensuring my children understand the values of the festival and not just see it as an event where they get lots of gifts and get to eat sweets and chocolate.
Diwali became even more special for us as our Daughter Esme was born just days before Diwali in 2012, her middle name is Adiya, which is Hindu for little light, which is so apt and our little nod to the festival of Diwali.
Bringing our children up in a multi cultural family means we are not just educating them about Diwali, it is also sharing it with my family. We are making traditions that we want our children to pass down, regardless of who they marry and what they believe. Hinduism is a cultural part of my husband’s life and of our family. The traditions he has been brought up with are shared with our children and hopefully will be passed on. My own parents have celebrated Diwali a number of times with us and it has now become the first of many festive celebrations that happen at this time of the year.
For me it is important to pass on the values that support these festivals, the traditions and meanings that allow us to stop and reflect for a moment about who we are and where we are going. Traditionally these festivals would allow people to stop and take time off, to enjoy their families and friends. In more recent years, the festivities have been morphed into graphic images sent via text or email and much like Christmas, it is squeezed in between the days of the busy lives we all lead.
We need to make the most of these festivals to reconnect.
It is a time of year for thanks, family and moments that matter.
Have a lovely Diwali week.