The dark moonless night when the victory of Lord Rama was celebrated by covering paths with oil lamps, gave rise to the tradition of lighting houses and public spaces with oil lamps (popularly known as diyas) and lights. This practice seeks to exult the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, giving way to India’s most auspicious festival, Diwali.
Diwali, a traditional festival of lights in India, is a five-days festival followed by many others. It runs simultaneously with the Hindu New Year, and is celebrated when the monsoon season ends and the weather is mild and pleasant.
As a kid, for me Diwali was always one of the days I awaited the most. It is a time to be in the ‘company of loved ones, dress up in finery with beautiful fabric and gorge on delicious dishes prepared, watch the colourful firework that dazzles the night sky and turns it into a myriad of hues.’ I was always excited for Diwali because of the gifts and festive meals. During the time of the year when the festival of Diwali is near, house frontages are white washed and decorated with designs drawn with colours of different patterns, termed as Rangoli. Buildings are traditionally illuminated with oil-burnings and artificial string lights.
On the day of the festival, we start the morning by drawing a religiously significant symbol (the Swastika) with a red coloured powder (Kumkum), and visiting temples during the early hours of the morning. The ladies of the house make the statue of Goddess Laxmi, who is considered as the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity in the Hindu mythology, using sugarcane sticks and decorate the statue with gold jewellery. The entire house is covered with the footprints of Laxmi, as we believe that on this day the Goddess of Wealth showers wealth and prosperity to everyone.
In the evening, when the sun starts to set, the local area glows with oil-lamps and artificial light. Every place shines like a bright diamond, and the beauty of the world seems unimaginable. Then comes the most exciting part, where people run to see the sparks from the lighting of gun powder and multicoloured lights sprinkle out against the black sky. There is a continuous thunder and loud roars and many sudden crashes. The streets are flooded with people as they hustle for a place at the Diwali meet. During that time women adore each other, men play cards, and kids roam around carrying their fireworks and enjoying themselves.
Finally, the time comes when everyone is exhausted of burning crackers and it’s time for the Diwali dinner. The tables are decorated with delicious food, which smells amazing. Diwali is all about sweets (mithais, laddos, barfis, sohan papdi…the list keeps going on!).
A variety of specialities are cooked depending on the region but the most traditional dinner is a kind of a Naan, known as puri, which is deep-fried in the expensive traditionally used liquid ghee and is accompanied by different vegetable curries. For dessert we mostly have traditional Kheer, which is made of rice with raisins, cashew nuts, crumbly doughnuts
and saffron, which is liked by almost all the Indians who love sweets.
Each and every Indian is proud to be born in a country where every religion is respected and every festival is celebrated with equality. Jai Hind!
I wish everyone in the world a very happy and a prosperous Diwali 2017!