Deepavali, also called Diwali in some parts of India, is a popular multi-day Hindu festival celebrated with lights and fireworks. It is one of the most important Hindu holidays of the year and is a celebration of the classic triumph of good over evil.
Lord Rama saves his wife Sita by defeating Ravana, a demon king, and returns to his kingdom Ayodhya. Deepavali usually occurs either in October or November. This year it begins October 27.
During Deepavali, everyone in the family gets together to celebrate. The festival takes place over five days, starting with the day of fortune with puja (prayers) to Goddess Laxmi.
A time for renewal
A few days leading up to the festival day, elderly women in the family help the womenfolk in the household with traditional snack recipes and sweets like laddoo, badursha, muruku, and mixture. They make these in large quantities to share with neighbors and friends visiting on the day. The entire house is thoroughly cleaned before the festival arrives.
Another annual tradition is the purchase of new clothes. The whole household wears new clothes and sits together for Laxmi puja (prayers in honor of the goddess of wealth).
After puja is done, everyone enjoys the day watching special programs — including recently released blockbuster movies on television that are telecast just for the occasion — while munching on delicious homemade snacks and savories.
In India, on the night of Deepavali, fireworks blaze the sky in beautiful colors. As we have become more environmentally conscious and to avoid sound and air pollution, fireworks have lessened, giving place to lights on the walls. Rows of diyas (small mud lamps with wicks dipped in ghee/puja oil) decorate the walls of houses making neighborhoods glitter with beautiful light.
Priyadarshini Rajendran lives in Fremont, Calif., and has two children. She is an enthusiastic traveler, bookworm, cook, and blogger at Glorious Sunrise.