Food, Festivals and Events

Happy Diwali… Good will always prevail over the Evil – Light will always defeat the Darkness

Happy Diwali… Good will always prevail over the Evil – Light will always defeat the Darkness

Sanctifying Ourselves

 

Wishing you all a very happy and prosperous Deepawali or Diwali whichever way you find it comfortable to pronounce. May your life gets brighten up with all the happiness that you may desire…

Here in India, festivals are a way of life, they add color, lights, and sweetness in life help create a fun filled atmosphere all around. And you have at least one festivals almost every month, sometime more than one🙂 Since childhood, Deepawali or Diwali for us meant a) Helping parents to clean up the home, b) Decorating home and specially the small temple within our home, c) Lighting up the exteriors, d) Meeting up with relatives and exchange of sweets and most importantly lots of Sweets to eat and some fire-crackers to double up the excitement. It is truly the happiest of holidays in India, with significant preparations. People clean their homes and decorate them for the festivities, everyone shops (its is the biggest shopping season here in India) – it is almost like a religious duty for everyone to buy at least something.People buy new clothes for themselves and their families, gifts, appliances, kitchen utensils, small to big ticket items such as cars and gold jewelry.

Actually the festive season starts around September and continue for a couple of months, it overlaps with the harvesting season of the summer crops here in India. After the summer & monsoon months and before the winters sets in, the weather is generally beautiful. It is the perfect time to clean-up the home (of the dust/dirt/ bacteria accumulated during the hard summer months and then the rainy season) and be prepared to welcome the winter season with new clothes. People buy gifts for family members and friends which typically includes sweets, dry fruits and seasonal specialties depending on regional harvest and customs.  It is also the period when little kids hear ancient stories, legends, myths and battle between good and evil, light and darkness from their parents and elders. Girls and women go shopping, and create rangoli and other creative patterns on floors, near doors and walkways. Youth and grown participate in lighting up the house and help the younger one’s to enjoy the fireworks safely. Prayers are offered before one or more deities, with most common being Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth and prosperity and Ganesha – the god of good luck and knowledge. On Diwali night, fireworks light up the neighborhood skies. Later, family members and invited friends celebrate the night over food and sweets.

As we wrote in numerous essays during the school days, the dark moon-less sky of the Diwali nights becomes the most illuminated one of the year with celebration everywhere. Diwali is not just to illuminate our homes, offices and streets – it is also important to start the light within ourselves with knowledge and wisdom and remove the darkness from our heart, mind and soul. It is a celebration of human spirit against the challenge that nature throws at all the species and tests their perseverance. It is also a celebration of the triumph  of  Good over Evil – each element of Diwali reflects that – brightening up the dark sky of a moon-less night; Fire-crackers tell all that we are also here and here to stay, Distribution of Sweets & Gifts to friends and family members to bring everyone closer.

Diwali has a much deeper spiritual significance than a purely religious one. In India and across the world Hindus (and other religions which came into being here in India e.g. Jainism, Sikhism) celebrate it to mark historical events, stories or myths, but they all spiritually mark the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, hope over despair. In the Yoga, Vedanta, and Samkhya schools of Hindu philosophy, a central belief is that there is something beyond the physical body and mind which is pure, infinite, and eternal, called the Atman. The celebration of Diwali as the “victory of good over evil”, refers to the light of higher knowledge dispelling all ignorance, the ignorance that masks one’s true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality. With this awakening comes compassion and the awareness of the oneness of all things, and knowledge overcomes ignorance. Diwali is the celebration of this Inner Light over spiritual darkness, knowledge over ignorance, right over wrong, good over evil.

Hindus also believe Diwali is linked to the celebration of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, and wife of deity Vishnu. The five day festival of Diwali begins on the day Lakshmi was born from the churning of cosmic ocean of milk during the tug of war between the forces of good and forces of evil; the night of Diwali is the day Lakshmi chose Vishnu as her husband and then married him. It is also believed that Diwali is the day Vishnu and Lakshmi reached their abode in the Vaikuntha, so everyone who worship Lakshmi receive the benefit of her good mood and are blessed with mental, physical and material well-being during the year ahead.

The night of Diwali marks the return of the Lord Rama, along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana from exile, along their best friend and Hanuman, as described in the ancient Hindu epic – The Ramayana.

Diwali also marks the return of Pandavas after 12 years of Vanvas and one year of agyatavas in the other ancient Hindu epic – The Mahabharata.

On Diwali day Prayers are also offered to other deities such as Ganesha, Kali, Saraswati, and Kubera.

But most important thing is that its a day that kids just go crazy, as they get to wear new clothes, have their favorite food all day long and at the night time enjoy the firecrackers.

Diwali at Golden Temple

 

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