Thursday 19th October marks the day of the festival of Diwali.
Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights, and is the most popular of all the festivals from South Asia, and is also celebrated by Sikhs.
The word Diwali comes from the Sanskrit word DeepavaliI, which means “rows of lighted lamps”. This is what Diwali is all about, houses shops and publics places are decorated with assorted lights and small oil lamps called diyas.
Many people also have Diwali parties, where they are joined by families and friends for food, candle lighting and fireworks.
Why is Diwali celebrated by Hindus?
The five-day festival is seen to be one of the most significant in the Indian culture.
The festival is to celebrate the Hindu God Rama and his wife Sita returning to their kingdom in northern India, after being exiled following the defeat of demon King Ravanna.
People decorate their homes with candles and lights, as it represents light over darkness and Hindu’s believe that good will always win over evil.
Why is Diwali celebrated by Sikhs?
For Sikh’s, Diwali is celebrated for another reason, and is also known as Bandi Chhor Divas.
Diwali is important as it celebrates the release from prison of the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind, and the 52 other princes that were with him, in 1619.
The Sikh tradition states that the Emperor Jahangir had imprisoned Guru Hargobind and 52 princes. The Emperor was asked to release the Guru which he agreed to do, however Guru Hargobind asked of the other princes could also be released.
The Emperor agreed, but only let those who hold his cloak tail could leave the prison. The guru cleverly had a cloak made with 52 pieces of string that allowed all the princes’ to leave.
What happens during the Festival of Light?
During Diwali, Sikhs and Hindi’s decorate their homes, and fill the fridges with the best Indian food and sweets around.
Huge firework displays fill the air, that are done to reflect the celebrations of Lord Rama’s return.
Diyas and candles are lit, and many households are decorated with colourful Rangoli. Rangoli is a pattern that is created on the floor using coloured rice or powder.
During the festival, families and friends exchange sweets and gifts, and it is also part of tradition that homes need to be cleaned and new clothes are to be worn.