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Diwali, the “Festival of Lights” connects Indians around the world

Diwali the Festival of Lights connects Indians around the world pardesi news 1459247746

Of all the festivals celebrated in India, Diwali is by far the most glamorous and important festival.

As Indians have scattered all over the world, along with them the varied cultural and ethnic diversities have also got a global diaspora. So, all Indian festivals are celebrated across the globe with may be lesser magnitude but undoubtedly same vigour. Diwali is surely the ‘most celebrated’ festival beyond all religious boundaries. It is enthusiastically enjoyed by people of every religion; its magical and radiant touch creates an atmosphere of joy and festivity all around, especially in India.

People look forward to this time of the year which is ideally spent with families, extended families and friends. As per the Roman calendar, the date of Diwali varies but as per Hindu calendar, it is the new moon day in the months of Ashvin which marks the onset of winter. 

Diwali or Deepaawali means an Array of Lamps i.e .Rows of diyas (Deep = Lamp, Vali =Array), is a festival of lights symbolizing the victory of righteousness and lifting of spiritual darkness. The festival occurs in October or November every year, though the exact dates are determined by the Indian lunar calendar. The first day of this five-day festival was 9th Nov this year, known as the Dhanteras but the most significant day of the festival was the third, which falls on Nov. 11.

There are a number of legends connected with the origin of Diwali, but Diwali is widely celebrated as the day that Lord Ram returned triumphant to Ayodhya after defeating Ravan. This aspect of Diwali is the most common and acceptable account with regards to the other origins of Diwali.The festival started as a harvest festival, commemorating the last harvest of the year before the beginning of the winter season. Indians would thank and seek blessings from Goddess Lakshmi, the deity of wealth and prosperity, as they closed out the financial year and looked ahead to the new one. Many Indians continue this tradition, marking the day after Diwali as the first day of the financial New Year.

This is the festival of lights and marks the end of festive month that had started with Navaratri. Diwali is also the time where the traditional foods and sweets are shared among family and friends. Homes are often decorated in colourful lights and candles, followed by an evening display of firework. In most of the northern and western India, people clean and paint the house inside out. It is a special day for the business communities. Making investments, buying gold and opening accounts is considered auspicious on this day.

The sparkling “festival of lights”, Diwali, is also celebrated all around the world with great joy and enthusiasm. Outside of India, Diwali is colloquially referred as "Indian Christmas." It also marks the start of Hindu New Year—no different than a calendar reset one week after Christmas in the western world. Diwali is celebrated all over the world. In countries like Mauritius, Fiji, Trinidad & Tobago, Surinam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Guyana and Bangladesh, in these countries Diwali is observed as a public holiday. Other countries like UK, USA, South Africa and Australia, where Indian communities reside in substantial numbers observe it in almost same way. While in some countries it is celebrated mainly by Indian expatriates, in others it is becoming part of the general local culture. The Swami Narayana Temple in London, UK has Annakuta or mountain of anna (food) offered to the deity. Once prayers and worship is done, it is distributed among the devotees as prasaad. It is autumn in this part of the world which is quite windy to light lamps or candles on windowsills. So, they are substituted with fancy lights outside their home but light diyas inside. Leicester is known for Diwali celebrations.

Diwali celebrations in Mauritius are done with same enthusiasm as it is done in India. About 63% of the population in Mauritius is of Indian origin. This island country is lit up with flickering lights of candles and lamps. Sweets and savouries are made in every household to be shared with neighbours. Quite interestingly, Japan also celebrates Diwali but in a different manner. They hang paper made lanterns in gardens and orchards. Festivities continue till night with music, dance and fireworks.

In Thailand, Diwali is called Lam Kriyongh. Lamps bade of banana leaves are lit and float in river to pray for strength to move on during difficult times. In Singapore, Diwali is celebrated in the district of Little India. Firecrackers are banned in this country due to noise and air pollution. However, the district is lit up with lights and streets are flooded with good food. Peacock is the mascot of this festival here.

Nothing can keep Indians away from India which is hidden in their hearts. So, wherever they are, they make way to celebrate festivals which are part of their entity. And Diwali surely is one of the most important one. The grandeur with which it is celebrated across the world justifies it.

 

About the author

Patrick Callahan

Pardesi News Reporter

Pardesi News Reporter

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