Diwali Festival of Light
I had pleasure to celebrate India’s most important holiday with my lovely Hindu friend and celebrate this wonderful day. I find out that Diwali falls on different day each year. It is calculated by the lunar Hindu calendar and this year it came on 23th October 2014. Diwali celebrate the return of Rama and Sita from the story about how good wins over evil. It is a five days of celebration which occurs on the fifteenth day of the Hindu month of Kartika. The fourth day of Divali is the Hindu New Year when Hindus say prayers to the goddess for successful year.
The festival of lights is held in honour of Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity. Hindus pray to Lakshmi to bring them good luck in the coming year. Lamps are lit to help Lakshmi find her way into people’s homes.
The word Diwali means ‘rows of lighted lamps’. Diwali is known as the ‘festival of lights’ because houses, shops and public places are decorated with small earthenware oil lamps called diyas
In Britain, as in India, the festival is a time for spring-cleaning the home, wearing new clothes (sari – woman traditional dress), exchanging gifts (often sweets and dried fruits) and preparing festive meals, decorating buildings with fancy lights, huge firework displays often celebrate Divali.
In India Hindus will leave the windows and doors of their houses open so that Lakshmi can come in. Rangoli are drawn on the floors – rangoli are patterns and the most popular subject is the lotus flower.
The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance, although the actual legends that go with the festival are different in different parts of India:
- In northern India and elsewhere, Diwali celebrates Rama’s return from fourteen years of exile to Ayodhya after the defeat of Ravana and his subsequent coronation as king;
- In Gujarat, the festival honours Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth;
- In Nepal Diwali commemorates the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon king Narakaasura;
- In Bengal, it is associated with the goddess Kali.
We went to BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir also known as the Neasden Temple in London, first traditional temple and the biggest in Europe. Outside the temple there was hindu supermarket with everything what Hindus need to prepare traditional meals, sweet shop and a big market with traditional vegetarian food, souvenirs and books in Hindu language. To go to temple we had to deposit our bags and cameras because photography is not allowed inside the temple. There were many people in different culture and nationality, because the festival was for everyone and everyone wished Happy Diwali. BAPS The Mandir was illuminated in pink in support of Breast Cancer Care during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The lighting of the Mandir was seen by thousands who had gathered for the Diwali celebrations and spectacular fireworks display.