Celebrating Diwali in India

Deepavali, otherwise known as Diwali, is a five day festival of lights, love and celebration. Coinciding with the Hindu New Year, Diwali in India is celebrated by millions of Jain, Sikh, and Hindu people. It is a time of new beginnings, and the triumph of good versus evil and light versus darkness. Millions of people around the world participate in the festivities of Diwali through fireworks, prayer and celebrational events every autumn. For the current year, Diwali falls between Sunday October 27th and Thursday October 31st, 2019. The date does change every year as it follows the Lunar calendar instead of the Gregorian Calendar. Each day holds its own individual meaning, with the third day being the most import of them all.  

There are many different meanings and reasons for the Indian holiday. Some people celebrate Diwali as it honors Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth. They pray for a good and prosperous year for themselves and their loved ones. For Hindus, Diwali is a celebration honoring the return of deities Rama and Sita to Ayodhya after a fourteen year exile. For others, it’s a celebration of the day Mother Goddess Durga destroyed and eradicated the Demon called Mahisha, a buffalo demon who could shape-shift into different forms. 

In the countries that celebrate Diwali, festivals are held where people congregate to light up the streets and enjoy food, and the New Year, but for those that live outside of the area, it can be difficult to know what to do. Fear not my reader friends, I have a list of things you can do from anywhere to help welcome the Hindu New Year and celebrate a prosperous 2020. 

Clean your home and work space on or before the first day of Diwali.

 

Because Diwali is the start of the new year fresh with new beginnings, it’s tradition to clean up your home and business on or before the first day of celebration. Think of it as a cleaning ritual where you prepare yourself and your family for a fresh new start. Traditional things you can do include your laundry, straightening up cluttered areas in your home, and sorting loose paperwork and bills in your office. Cleaning your surroundings is akin to cleansing your soul and purifying your environment. With that purification comes peace of mind for a fresh new year! 

Draw or cut out footprints to scatter throughout your home on the first day. 

 

The first day of Diwali is called Dhanteras. The word itself is a combination of the words dhan (meaning wealth) and teras (which means thirteenth day). Since Diwali starts on the thirteenth day after Poornima or the full moon, this marks the start of the celebration. On Dhanteras, we celebrate Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and a traditional way of awaiting her arrival is to either trace small footprints out of rice flower and vermillion powder, or you can cut them out of paper.  This project can be especially fun to do with kids. Even if you don’t celebrate the holiday yourself, it’s a wonderful hands on teachable moment about other cultures!

Go Shopping for new clothes, jewelry, and utensils. 

 

Another fabulous way to celebrate your new year and new beginnings, is to purchase new items for your home and yourself. Clothes and jewelry signify the new year for your body and utensils or home decor signifies the new year for your home and family. Try to wear your new items during the five days of Diwali, and use your new utensils as well. Some popular items include a brand new outfit and earrings, with a new set of plates or utensils.  These also make for great gifts for Diwali to send to your loved ones. Practical gifts for the home, stunning jewelry, even a charming living plant can show your affection and help their year start right. 

On the second day, decorate your home with Rangoli

 

The second day of Diwali is called Narak Chaturdashi. This day, people decorate their homes with bright and colorful rangoli designs. Rangoli can be done by either painting on wood or paper, or you can also glue bright colored rice or sand in decorative shapes. Most rangoli designs feature symmetric flower designs like lotuses and daisies. Place them outside your door or anywhere around your home to add a little color to the second day of Diwali. 

Cook traditional served food for the celebration. 

There aren’t any national foods for the Diwali celebration, but some favorites you might enjoy include kebabs and yogurt dip.  Taking a skewer, add your favorite meat and veggies one by one, sprinkle with seasonings and grill until cooked thoroughly. For the dip, combine a shredded cucumber, milk, yogurt, onion, lime juice and your favorite spices. 

There are so many ways to celebrate Diwali! I hope I have provided you with a few ideas this October for your and your family. Whether you’re celebrating with millions of others or giving thanks  in your very own home, Diwali is a time for love and fresh starts. Send a token of your love and prosperity to your friends near and far.

Now you know all about Diwali and how you can celebrate near or far, what next?