Shubh Diwali! Happy New Year! Enjoy your holiday.
For readers who may not know what Diwali is about, I offer this from the BBC:
What is Diwali?
Diwali, traditionally known by its Sanskrit name Deepavali, means ‘a row of lights’. It’s a five-day festival that falls in October or November (the dates vary according to the lunar calendar). There are numerous myths about how the festival originated. Some Hindus believe that Diwali marks the homecoming of the much-idolised King Rama, who returned after defeating the evil Ravana in a battle that lasted for 14 years.
Others believe it’s the day on which the beautiful goddess Lakshmi was rescued from an evil king. Yet others insist that it’s the day on which the blue-skinned god Krishna destroyed a much-despised demon. Whatever beliefs people in different parts of the Subcontinent hold about Diwali, all agree that it symbolises the triumph of good over evil – a central running theme in all Indian stories, from ancient Hindu mythology to modern-day Bollywood movies.
All over the world Diwali is celebrated with a great deal of joy and optimism, as it’s a period that marks new beginnings. Houses are thoroughly cleaned or redecorated. In India, courtyards are swept and decorated with ‘rangoli’ – patterns created with powdered or wet paint. Doorways of homes are festooned with ‘torans’ – decorative garlands made with golden marigolds and fresh mango leaves. Private and communal worship is a major feature of the festival, and devout Hindus wake up early and bathe at the crack of dawn to go to temple.
According to Hindu beliefs, the goddess Lakshmi, who is believed to bring wealth and good fortune, only visits homes that are clean and brightly lit, so every home is lit up with dozens of flickering hand-painted terracotta lamps. Fireworks and fireworks displays – which represent the loud, fiery weapons used in ancient mythology to fight the forces of evil – are also immensely popular.
As the day after Diwali is New Year’s Day according to the Hindu Vikram calendar, debts are cleared, new account books started, new crops sown, and old adversaries embraced in a spirit of reconciliation. Children touch the feet of adults in order to receive a blessing and a monetary gift. Everyone, young and old alike, dresses up in new clothes and goes on a major shopping spree, as the buying of new household goods, particularly kitchen utensils, is considered auspicious.
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