Diwali (or Deepavali in Sanskrit) literally means "a row of lights". This five day festival, which is the biggest in India, celebrates the triumph of good over evil and brightness over darkness.
On a personal level, Diwali is a time for introspection, to contemplate and dispel the darkness of ignorance.
Diwali marks a new beginning, a renewal of commitment to family values, and represents all the good virtues we seek such as love, reflection, forgiveness and knowledge.
Traditionally the exchanging of gifts especially sweets and chocolate is associated with this celebration and we say – Bring out the Bonieri!
When is Diwali?
The festival occurs in October or November depending on the cycle of the moon. This year (2017) it was in October. Next year it will be November.
The festival lasts for 5 days with the 3rd day being the largest celebration.
How is the Festival Celebrated?
Each day of the festival has a different meaning.
The first day, Dhanteras, marks the start of Diwali. It's dedicated to celebrating
wealth. People traditionally buy gold and new kitchen utensils on this day. Homes are
cleaned and readied to welcome Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, inside.
On the second day Rangoli (Hindu folk art) is created in doorways and courtyards of
homes, and people start bursting crackers.
Lord Krishna and Goddess Kali are believed to have destroyed the demon Narakasura
and freed 16,000 captive princesses on this day. Demon effigies are widely burned.
On the third and main day, lots of small clay lamps (called diyas) and candles are lit
and placed in houses, and fireworks are let off everywhere, giving Diwali its name of
“Festival of Lights”.
Families gather together and perform the Lakshmi Puja (16 steps of worship that
includes meditation, washing of feet, and offering of flowers).
Goddess Kali, the fearsome Dark Mother, is worshiped for her ability to destroy the
ego and illusions that go with it.
Afterwards families give each other gifts and sweets. We could recommend a few
Bella Boxes here!
On the fourth day, merchants open fresh accounts for the new year, and offer
prayers. Govardhan Puja is celebrated in north India, to commemorate Lord Krishna's
defeat of Indra, the rain god. In Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the victory
of Lord Vishnu over demon king Bali is celebrated as Bali Pratipada or Bali Padyami.
The fifth and last day, is dedicated to celebrating sisters. Brothers and sisters get
together and share food, to honor the bond between them. This day is known
as Bhai Duj.