What is Diwali
Diwali is a festival of lights that marks the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil and the renewal of life. The word “Diwali” literally translates to “row of lights,” and refers to the lamps that are used during this holiday. For many in India, Diwali is a five-day celebration with the most important day being the third (which this year falls on Monday, October 24), and for others, Diwali is celebrated on that single day. Either way the holiday is marked by prayer, family gatherings, gift giving, feasts, and fireworks.
Who Celebrates Diwali
Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists alike. Because it is so widely celebrated by different religions in different parts of the world, there is no single origin story, but all ultimately represent the victory of good over evil.
How Diwali is Celebrated
During celebrations, homes are decorated with diyas (small clay lamps) and brightly colored rangoli patterns. Diyas are synonymous with Diwali, as they represent the inner light that protects the household from spiritual darkness. In addition to the lighting of the clay lamps, food (especially sweets!) and family gatherings are the most important themes during Diwali celebrations.
For many Hindus, the festivities include offerings to Lakshmi the goddess of wealth and fortune. Generosity and gift giving to family and friends during Diwali is also a nod to Lakshmi, as it is believed that generosity towards others will be rewarded in kind.
How to Celebrate Diwali
As mentioned before, food is an integral part of the celebration of Diwali and can be a great way to engage with the culture. If you’re looking for something savory, you might want to try vegetable samosas, which are a delicious any time of year. If you are wanting to try something sweeter, one of my favorites is gulab jamun, which are fried dumplings that have been dipped in a rich rose and saffron syrup.