On 14 November the Indian festival of lights begins. It’s a five-day celebration, traditionally observed by Hindus across the Indian subcontinent.
It’s such a fascinating festival that we wanted to find out a little bit more about Diwali and what it means to those who observe it.
What does Diwali celebrate?
Diwali symbolises the victory of light over darkness. It can also represent good defeating evil and even knowledge over ignorance. While it’s usually linked with Hinduism, several other faiths also recognise its significance. Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism all celebrate this time of year. And with over 1 billion people observing various rituals and ceremonies, it makes this one of the largest and most colourful festivals in the world.
Customs and traditions
Evidence of people celebrating Diwali have been found as far back as the 10th Century, making it not only one of the most culturally significant times, but also one of the oldest.
Because so many cultures, countries and faiths celebrate Diwali in their own unique way, it would take some time to list all the customs associated with it. But what all faiths seem to agree on is the representation of light over darkness.
The five days of celebration usually focus on one specific aspect per day.
- Day 1 (Dhanteras), many Hindus clean their homes and businesses, using oil filled lamps to provide light for the five days.
- Day 2 (Naraka Chaturdashi), is a time to pray for peace for loved ones past and present. It’s also when festive foods, especially sweets, are bought and made for visiting friends and relatives.
- Day 3 (Lakshmi Pujan), Today is the height of the festival, with homes decorated and adorned with beautiful lights and lamps and traditionally the youngest members visit older relatives. Celebrants will sometimes wear new clothes and jewellery and fireworks provide fun for some.
- Day 4 (Annakut), Husbands and wives celebrate their bond with gifts and in some customs, communities prepare food, sometimes 100 dishes, to share among themselves. In other traditions it can be the start of the New Year, helped with the purchase of essentials and the ‘good things in life’.
- Day 5 (Bhai Dooj), the last day of the festival celebrates the bond between siblings with prayers, meals and traveling to meet and catch up.
Diwali in lockdown
It’s always great to celebrate the people and customs that mean the most to us, but with current restrictions in place, many families may be adapting their plans to celebrate Diwali this year. It’s looking likely that travel will not be possible, but thanks to technology, we can all share in the beauty and reverence with our loved ones. Now might be a great time to check our relatives know how to use the various web chat tools available.
For some, Diwali is their favourite time of year to go shopping and to treat themselves, friends and family to new outfits, jewellery and party food. So, with loads of shops still closed, online might be the way to go.
If you’ve left it to the last minute and you’re worried about delivery times, don’t forget we can help with a discounted TOTUM Pro card which, not only comes with free Amazon Prime for six months, for next day delivery, but offers loads of discounts off hundreds of online shops and retailers.
However you celebrate this November, have a fantastic time.