Diwali Traditions | How to celebrate the occasion with @15min_mom
Diwali is a religious festival celebrated in India and all across the globe by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains. It’s as big of a festival as Christmas in the western cultures. Diwali usually consists of 5 days of celebrations, each day with its unique symbolism, traditions and prayers. This festival usually falls between October and November, according to the lunar calendar.
The word Diwali means row of lights. During this festival people decorate their entrances and houses with lights, candles and diyas which are clay lamps, painted and decorated to hold a cotton wick, dipped in ghee or oil. We light our houses to invite the goddess Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, to bring prosperity to our homes in the new year to come.
We begin decorating our homes a few days in advance and the children start by lighting their first diya at the entrance of our home.
In India, people illuminate their homes and all the streets, symbolising the legendary illumination of the dark village paths. As the story goes, the deities (Gods) Rama and his wife Sita, together with Lakshman his brother defeated the evil king Ravana and upon their return to their kingdom, houses were decorated and illuminated to celebrate the victory of good over evil and guide Lord Rama and his family back into the kingdom safely.
Houses are also decorated in beautiful, colourful, floor powder art called rangolis. My children love to make small patterns with coloured powder whilst I like to make large rangolis. People draw rangoli on the floor by the entrance of their homes to welcome the gods and bring good luck!
Diwali is about light, colour and beautiful food. Weeks in advance, we start making sweets and savoury treats that fill our home with festive aromas and really build up the spirit of Diwali.
The festivities begin with the first day known as Dhanteras or the worship of wealth. Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped on this day and there is a custom to purchase something precious. We like to buy new clothes for the occasion, presents for the children and some gold.
The second day we celebrate the goddess Kali (meaning black goddess), the destroyer of evil forces. It is traditional to wear all black and really get dressed up with makeup and jewellery.
The third day is the main Diwali festival. Prayers to the goddess Lakshmi are performed and it is believed she enters and blesses people’s homes with good fortune, so we keep our lights and diyas on all night for her to find her way to us. Families exchange envelopes with money (to spread good fortune to each other), gifts and sweets. Fireworks and sparklers are lit in celebration.
The fourth day marks the new Hindu calendar year. We offer sweets and home cooked delicacies to our gods in our home shrines and main temples.
The fifth and last day is Bhai Bij (meaning second day). On this day sisters invite their brothers for a lavish meal and perform a Tilak ceremony. Sisters pray for their brother’s long and happy life while the brothers give gifts to their sisters and promise lifelong protection. My children love feeding each other sweets.
We wish everyone celebrating, a Happy Diwali and a prosperous New Year.
All images by @15min_mom
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