How to Celebrate Diwali..
Diwali is a 5 day festival, celebrated to mark the triumph of good over evil. It is observed each year at some point during mid-October to mid-November in many countries such as India, Singapore, Malaysia, and Nepal, or where there are large Indian communities living such as in Canada, Britain, South Africa and New Zealand.Just as Christians regard Christmas as a special and important holiday, Diwali is a festival that has as much meaning for Hindus. Aside from Hinduism, other religions that celebrate this festival are Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Whatever your faith, you can join in the festivity that is "The Festival of Lights".
1Learn what Diwali is. Diwali is also known as Deepavali, the "deep" meaning "light" or "lamp", and "avali" meaning "row" This "row of lights" is represented by lighting lamps everywhere during Diwali. The reasons behind celebrating Diwali differ and are outlined under "Tips". Diwali consists of three to five days of celebrations (the duration depends on where you come from or derive the celebratory traditions from):
- The thirteenth day from Poornima (Full Moon) (Dhantrayodashi or Dhanteras). This is the first day of Diwali. "Dhan" means "wealth" and teras means thirteenth day. This is the day for celebrating the goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth. For some places in India, the lamps are kept burning for Lord Yamaraj, the God of Death.
- The fourteenth day (Chhoti Diwali or Narak chaturdashi). Hindus believe that this is the day that Lord Krishna destroyed the demon Narakasur, freeing the world from fear. Firecrackers are often let off from this day.
- The new moon day (Diwali / Lakshmi puja / Lakshmipujan) of the dark fortnight of Ashwin. This is the actual day of Diwali, and the most significant day. If the house has not already been cleaned, it must be done early this day to welcome the Goddess Lakshmi. Gifts and sweets are exchanged on this day to strengthen bonds of love between family and friends. Firecrackers are let off after dinner.
- The first day of the bright fortnight of Kartik (Balipratipada / Padiwa / Govardhan puja / Varshapratipada). This is the day that Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhan Parvat to protect the Gokul people from Indra's wrath and King Vikramaditya was crowned.
- The fifth and final day of the Diwali Festival (Bhai Dooj / Bhaiya Dooj). On the final day of Diwali, brothers and sisters renew sibling love, with sisters applying the sacred red tilak on the forehead of their brothers and praying for their long life, while brothers bless their sisters and provide gifts of love.
- Not everyone includes the thirteenth day, and the separate holy festivals of Vasubaras and Bhaubij precede Diwali, and follow the Diwali Festival respectively.
2Go shopping. It is customary to buy utensils and ornaments on the first day of Diwali.
3Clean the house and business premises thoroughly before the first Diwali day, or the Dhanteras. Do the laundry, clean all the rooms and sort out your papers in both your home and business. It's like a spring cleaning of sorts, a "cleansing" ritual to rid yourself of any unnecessary elements in your environment.
- Draw small footprints using rice flour and vermilion powder over your house; this is a way of indicating that you're awaiting the arrival of the Goddess.
4Make the entrance way to your home or business colourful using the traditional motifs of Rangoli designs. These include bells, flower garlands, wall hangings, mirrors, LED lights, etc. This is a joyful way to welcome the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity. Rangoli designs can be found across the internet, or you can be inspired by the one suggested here.
5Try different types of Rangoli. There are also ready-made wooden Rangolis available. These are beautifully hand crafted and painted on light pieces of wood. There are innumerable ways to arrange them. So, just go wild with your creativity and create your own design (or you can be inspired by the one provided here).
6Light lamps every night during the festival. In the evening, light small oil lamps (called "diyas") and place them around the home. Turn all the lights on and light some candles. The lamps symbolize knowledge or one's inner light, which brings about inner peace and fights off any traces of darkness and ignorance.
7Light some firecrackers and fireworks. These are a common part of Diwali, used to symbolize warding off evil from your surroundings. They are usually set off in greatest numbers on the actual day of Diwali (the third day).
- If you're setting off your own firecrackers, be careful and follow all safety precautions associated with using firecrackers.
- Be careful of noisy crackers.
- Take care to keep pets and small children indoors and away from the excitement and frightening noises.
8Wear new clothes and jewels on the second and third days. If you are a woman, try to obtain a sari, the traditional Indian dress for women which is 9 yards (8.2 m) of fabric draped elegantly at the waist and across the left shoulder. Women may also wear a salwar-kurta (Indian flowing tunic with matching pants/leggings and long shawl/scarf).
- Men normally wear kurtas, the national clothes for Indian men. This is a knee-length (usually embroidered) silk or cotton tunic and matching pants.
11Perform a "Lakshmi pooja". This is a ritual performed on Diwali day (the third day) in order to seek divine blessings from the Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi, who helps those who strive to achieve wealth. It consists of an elaborate ritual using grains, leaves, coins, and idols to prepare a ceremony. During this ritual, you can invoke the Goddess by reciting the Vedic mantras or by thinking of her being showered with gold coins with two elephants standing one each side of her as you chant her name. Offerings are made and at the end, the aarti is performed quietly and a peaceful atmosphere should accompany the entire ritual.
13Care for your sibling. Brothers and sisters affirm sibling love and look after one another on the final day of Diwali. Cook for your sibling, give your sister presents, and tell your brother you love him and wish him a long life.
14Join public space celebrations of Diwali. Even if you don't practice Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, or Sikhism, you can still join in the Diwali celebrations that are held in many public spaces. For example, in New Zealand both the capital Wellington and the city of Auckland, and various towns, hold public Diwali Festivals that welcome all comers. Go and see what is happening, join in the fun, and celebrate with everyone else.
- Attend public concerts, parties, celebratory events, and feasts for Diwali.
- Wish everyone a Happy and Prosperous Diwali.