Diwali Celebrations- Holiday Fun from India

Written by: Maulee Tolia

One of the best part of living in the city is the opportunity to learn about and experience so many different cultural traditions. NPN has started a new blog series to highlight some of the various cultures and traditions that you may want to share with your family! Today's topic- Diwali, the festival of lights from India.

I love celebrations and November is a great month for our family.  During the last week of October, we celebrated Diwali and our new year Sal Mubarak. Diwali or Deepavali, meaning row of lamps or divas (earthen lamps), is the national festival of lights celebrated in India by Hindu, Jain and Sikh religions yearly around late October/early November following the Hindu lunar calendar. In Hinduism there are numerous gods and goddesses, each celebrated throughout the year.  Diwali celebrates the triumphant return of Lord Rama to the ancient city of Ayodhya following a 14 year exile. He successfully rescued his wife Sita who had been captured by the evil demon Ravana. The city delights in their safe return by lighting their path with divas and celebrations of feasts, firecrackers and family visits ensue.  Jains also believe that on Diwali their 24th  ford-maker Lord Mahavira attained nirvana, giving extra reason to celebrate.

Our family traditions on Diwali include calls to family and loved ones near and far to wish them a joyous Diwali Mubarak. New clothes are worn, an elaborate Indian meal is shared and a small puja (prayer service) is performed to Lord Ganesha (for auspicious beginnings) and Goddess Lakshmi Devi (for wealth and prosperity) to begin the new year with good health, happiness and fortune.

Diwali is a fun time for kids. Our 4 year old enjoys speaking with his grandparents about the holiday and exchanging small gifts. We love sending and receiving Diwali greeting cards and e-cards. We share dinners with family and friends at their homes, a restaurant, temple or hall. At the temple, sweets are offered to the gods and some goodies are also sent to relatives and enjoyed during mealtimes.

Along with dressing up in beautiful Indian attire, we also participate by designing a Rangoli, which is a design drawn on the floor of an entry to welcome guests. It can be made up of different colored sands (food coloring) or lentils, rice and flowers arranged in geometric and organic designs either on the pavement, front porch or on a silver tray to celebrate the holiday!

Diwali is a wonderful holiday that celebrates the triumph of good over evil and of personal enlightenment, and the lit divas represent the bright beginnings of new businesses and ventures in the new year.

Involve preschool aged kids in fun Diwali crafts such as making a clay tear drop shaped diya or create a beautiful rangoli on black construction paper with white chalk and glue on different colored sand or glitter!

Happy Diwali and Sal Mubarak everyone!

Posted on November 05, 2011 at 5:56 PM