Diwali: a fresh start

India is a country with many holidays, approximately 50 per year. Possibly the most important is Diwali.

The Diwali or “festival of lights” is a festival that is held annually in India, according to the Hindu tradition, and lasts for 5 days. The date of the Diwali coincides with Kartika’s month new moon, so it depends on the lunar calendar. Although the date varies from one region to another, it always takes place between October 21st and November 18th, when the moon is in the waning quarter.

This year, it will begin on Sunday, October 27th, 2019. This celebration, among other things, represents the beginning of the Hindu New Year. It’s a great party in India, in which people tend to wear new clothes, share sweets and explode firecrackers. It’s one of the happiest nights of the year in which fireworks are always present, very similar to the New Year of the West!

Its origin goes back to different sources: it is believed that it’s the celebration of Lakshmi’s marriage, who symbolizes beauty, good luck and is responsible for providing prosperity, with Vishnu. In Bengal, the festival is dedicated to the dark goddess of force, Kali and Ganesha, the elephant with God’s head, a symbol of good omen and wisdom. Also, the return of Rama is commemorated, together with Sita and Lakshmana, their 14 years of exile and the defeat of the demon Ravana. Due to the return of their king, the town of Ayodhya, the capital of Rama, illuminated the kingdom with oil lamps and fireworks. Hence, the tradition of lighting oil lamps and candles at night. It is the ideal holiday for a new beginning: account books are renewed, cleaning is done, houses are painted and even some household goods are replaced.

On the first day of celebration, the “spring cleaning” is carried out; in the second, the oil lamps (diyas) are placed in the newly cleaned houses. The third day is the main day of the celebration, and it’s when families gather to pray to the Goddess Lakshmi before the party and fireworks take place. On the fourth day, the Hindu New Year begins and friends and family gather to exchange gifts and congratulate one another of the new year. Finally, on the fifth day, the brothers visit their sisters to end the festivities with an extravagant meal and more fireworks.

During these days, all the doors and windows of the houses are opened and decorated with colored lights and many candles, which are lit at sunset. For the Hindus, the lights have a deeper meaning: light defeats darkness, good defeats evil. The significance of light illuminates homes and gives hope to its inhabitants about the arrival of Lakshmi and their approach to divinity.

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