Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated with great fervor by Indian communities all over the world. The word ‘Diwali’ comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Deepavali,’ which means ‘light’ and ‘row,’ implying a row of lights, which is exactly what one sees in homes during this time—rows of lights in celebration of the festival. The Festival of Lights does just that, light up the homes and hearts of communities all over the world. A five-day celebration of the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and hope over despair done by adorning the houses with string lights, lanterns, garlands, diyas (earthen lamps) and bursting firecrackers. Inside the homes, one will find an array of delicious sweets and intricate rangoli art, which are patterns on the floor created by either rice or coloured powder. All of this is to welcome Goddess Lakshmi into people’s homes in the most pristine manner and for her to bring prosperity for the year to come.
Diwali is undoubtedly one of India’s most beloved festivals, with Indians going to great lengths to celebrate it in the most extravagant way possible.
During one of the biggest Hindu festivals, people look forward to reuniting with their families and meeting their relatives and friends, but a possible third pandemic wave is also a cause of concern this year. So is the increase in pollution levels that harm those suffering from respiratory disorders or other illnesses. Due to the ongoing pandemic situation, precaution and safety not only imply to the bursting of crackers but also to protecting ourselves and our families from the virus.
Diwali celebrations around the world
Not just in India, Diwali is also celebrated by Indians all over the world with great enthusiasm. Every year the White House observes the sanctity of this occasion as the “Indians Christmas” with great honor and respect. Australia and New Zealand embrace this glorious celebration with a carnival mood including fairs, great performances and cultural shows. Diwali, a diminution on its Sanskrit name of Deepavali, is popularly celebrated in other corners of the world as well.
Here are some ideas on how you could celebrate Diwali this year
Apart from the staple lantern, lamps, and fairy lights, Diwali decoration entails a lot of things that end up being ‘Use and Throw’. Instead of adding to the landfills, try reusing old utensils or fabrics to make some interesting DIY decorations. With retro being the in-thing, it will add a unique touch while being more personal and homely.
Supporting local artisans
A little effort can be very generous and empowering for local artisans, craftspersons, etc. Small businesses wait an entire year for the festive season in the urge to sell their products. However, Covid-19 has been a devastating time for small businesses. One can contribute and help them to earn their livelihood by buying product and gifts locally from them. Even a little contribution is sufficient to bring a smile on their faces, on this day of joy. One should refrain from bargaining with these people as they are already selling at little margins and this earning can sometime sustain them through the year.
Giving back to our community
Diwali is the season of spreading joy, making it the ideal time to bank some goodwill. Pile up all the clothes and household items you don’t need during your annual Diwali cleaning, and donate them to a non-profit. Be conscious of any food leftovers and unused edible gifts too—you can give them to a local food bank or housing shelters and bring a smile on someone’s face. Donating a small amount from your Diwali budget to the needy or being generous to your house-helps can give you a lot of satisfaction.
Following Covid-appropriate behaviour in gatherings
If you’re going out to meet people this Diwali, stay away from large gatherings and parties. Instead, plan a small family get together. While meeting others, be sure everyone has gotten their Covid-19 vaccination and is wearing a mask, using sanitizer, and washing their hands frequently. It is important to ventilate your house during the Puja by opening all the windows.
While lighting candles or diyas, it is necessary to avoid the use of sanitizers, particularly those containing alcohol sanitizers are highly flammable and can catch fire easily, posing serious fire hazards. It is always a good idea to wash hands properly before lighting candles or diyas.
RMSI Diwali Celebrations
Every year, RMSI organizes Diwali celebrations with much fanfare and aplenty. Various activities are executed to lighten the mood while contributing to making the office like a second home. In recent times due to the pandemic, we are commemorating e-Diwali this year and trying to reminisce the memories. RMSI is organizing e-Diwali events this year such as, Ethnic Eternity, where all teams dress up in ethnics and compete to be the best dressed.
Interesting Facts about Diwali
- The festival of Diwali is also important in Sikhism, as it marks the release of their gurji – Guru Hargobind Sahibji – and 52 other kings and princess of India who were made captives by the Moghul emperor Shah Jahan. Also, on the day of Diwali in 1577, the Golden Temple’s foundation stone was laid
- There are national holidays in India, Trinidad & Tobago, Myanmar, Nepal, Mauritius, Guyana, Singapore, Suriname, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Fiji. And is an optional holiday in Pakistan
- The English city of Leicester hosts the biggest Diwali celebrations outside of India
- In Nepal, Diwali is known as Tihar or Santi
A Diwali of Hope & Happiness
Diwali is a festival of hope for finding life and happiness amidst the darkness. A festival celebrating the triumph of good over evil, hope over despair and of light over darkness.
But the true essence of the festival lies in the simple philosophies of progress and prosperity, unity and togetherness and new beginnings. Especially this year, the essence of Diwali is about having gratitude to have passed the pandemic so far and having the opportunity to celebrate with our families. It is about bringing positive energy into our lives for a better tomorrow.
May this festival of lights bring you peace, prosperity, success, health, and great happiness!