November 5th is the first of the five days of Diwali, the festival of light -- the most important celebration in the Hindu calendar. (It is also celebrated by Jains, Sikhs, and some Buddhists.) Over the five days, the triumphant return of several Hindu deities from triumphal battles with the forces of evil are celebrated. Special lamps, or diyas are lit, and firecrackers are set off in commemoration of these returns and in joyous tribute to the triumph of good over evil. Gifts are exchanged, charitable acts are undertaken, and homes are festively decorated.
It is a national holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore, and Fiji.
Ms Kamini at Deelishuss writing from South Africa, recalls the Diwalis of her childhood and says:
Much like "death and taxes" I know that on Diwali morning, we will be greeted with hot samoosa's and Doodh Paark, which is a sweetened milk drink studded with toasted nuts and sago. That will be followed by a huge family lunch with extended family for as far as the eye can see, followed by tea and sweet treats before the pyrotechnics of the evening.
Brenda at Alphamom is teaching her daughter about multi culturalism, and has a nice craft project for Diwali.
...We lit our tea lights and enjoyed the soft glow of prosperity ...We might not be celebrating the bounty of our harvest like they do in India ...but we can definitely celebrate how wonderful it is to live in a country where we have the luxury of free time to craft!
Mayuri, writing from New Zealand, acknowledges the difference in celebrating Diwali away from India and says:
Miles away from home, we make it a point to enjoy this festival as much as we did in India. We miss the bazaars and preparations. We may not experience the Diwali nights with fireworks like stars shooting from earth to heaven. But our spirits are high.
No relatives around, no siblings or cousins for pranks but their places are filled with friendships made in distant lands. Rituals may have changed but euphoria is the same. Our little ones may not know what festivals are but they have fun following the customs...Happy Diwali to all. Let’s celebrate!
Nithya of 4th Sense Cooking started her day this way:
My celebration this morning started with a hot oil bath followed by pooja to god.
Then dressed up in new clothes and burst the crackers. The best part of Diwali is to call up and receive calls from all our friends and relatives :) My call list exceeded 30 today :)
Viji at Tales from the Life of a Palindrome recalls her childhood and the more elaborate festivities in her past:
But you know what? Its not the size of the landing or the number of diyas
you light that makes Diwali so special ; its the size of the world made so vast by
the friends and loved ones in your life and the number of phone calls and
text messages and e mails that flow straight into your heart from the phone
and computer and make your heart swell with love and affection and gratitude
for this great big family that my work has made me a part of...
Aarthi in the Indian Makeup and Beauty Blog shows pictures of the beautiful silk and cotton saris that she received as gifts for Diwali from her husband and parents.
Grace writing from Sandier Pastures in Dubai, U.A.R. says:
Indian expats comprise the biggest part of the UAE/Dubai expat population so naturally, traditional Indian celebrations are also celebrated in communities here in Dubai. In my office, sweets were coming left and right yesterday from work colleagues celebrating Diwali. Most of the people in my work place are Muslims but it’s nice to see them greeting our Hindu work colleagues, shaking their hands and wishing them Happy Diwali.
The Mad Momma writes about her concerns for the environment impacting her Diwali celebration: (She also has some beautiful pictures of her home Diwali decorations.)
I’ve loved Diwali all my life for the colour and the light. But over the last few years I’ve grown more sensitive. To child labour. To the environment. But I’ve ignored the little voice at the back of my head because of the kids. Until recently when I realised that their schools have begun to campaign against firecrackers. It disturbs the peace, the stray dogs are terrified, the streets are littered, a haze of smog hangs over the city and everyone is wheezing. But it’s still so beautiful! One part of me says “Aw… let them enjoy their childhood.” Another part screams.. “what about the little kids in Sivakasi losing their childhood slaving over these?”
Lisa in My Thoughts in Words speaks of her joy at Diwali and adds:
Today is a day to celebrate and make merry,
Make someone else smile and feel the true joy.
So Let us hope with each passing Diwali,
We never forget to pray and live for others.
Today President Obama, also in anticipation of his visit to India, issued the following statement:
Tomorrow, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists, here in America and around the world, will celebrate the holiday of Diwali – the festival of lights. This is a day when members of some of the world's oldest religions celebrate the triumph of good over evil. Last year, I marked this holiday as many will this weekend – by lighting the Diya, or lamp. This lamp symbolizes the victory of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.
Diwali is a time for celebration, but it is also a time for reflection – a time when we must remember that there are always others less fortunate then ourselves. This holiday reminds us all that we should commit ourselves to helping those in need. For many, this is also a time to gather with family and to pray. To those celebrating Diwali in India, I look forward to visiting you over the next few days. And to all those who will celebrate this joyous occasion on Friday, I wish you, your families and loved ones Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak.
~~ Contributing Editor, Mata H. also blogs right along at Time's Fool
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