The Festival of Light

By Dharshika

Gecko Sri Lanka would like to wish you all a happy Diwali!

This year, Diwali falls on Tuesday 13th November. Diwali is one of the most enthusiastically celebrated and well-known Hindu festivals, and it is also celebrated in Jainism and Sikhism. Literally translated, Diwali (or Deepavali) means “rows of lighted lamps”, and it is famously known as the Festival of Lights.

 

The meaning of Diwali

The reasons for celebrating Diwali vary between regions and religions, but the overriding theme is that of the triumphant victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and hope over despair. A more spiritual approach is that of “the awareness of inner light”.

For many, Diwali honours Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and good fortune. The lighting of lamps is thought to guide Lakshmi into peoples’ houses. Diwali also celebrates the legend of Rama and Sita, when the couple return to Rama’s kingdom Ayodhya, after fourteen years of exile, having defeated the demon king Ravana. The people of Ayodhya illuminated the kingdom with lamps to celebrate the return of their king. Another legend is that of the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon king Narakaasura.

In Jainism, the festival of light marks the anniversary of the attainment of moksha or nirvana by Mahavira in 527 BCE. Sikhs celebrate Diwali as it marks Chhorh Divis, when the sixth guru, Guru Harhobind Ji, released 52 Hindi kings out of prison.

How Diwali is celebrated

In Hinduism, the festival lasts five days, and is celebrated by families performing traditional activities in their homes. Diwali is a time for spring-cleaning the home; worship and pujas; wearing new clothes, exchanging gifts, often in the form of sweets; indulging in lavish meals; decorating houses with lights; and importantly, spending quality time with family and friends. Of course there are also the larger scale celebrations with firework displays and fun with sparklers, or dances, plays and festive dinners. Traditionally people would start a new business year at Diwali, as its ties to Goddess Lakshmi are thought to bring them good fortune.

Alongside the religious implications, Diwali marks a new beginning and a chance to spend time with your loved ones. We would like to wish you all peace, prosperity and happiness this Diwali.

 

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About geckosrilanka

Gecko Sri Lanka is a UK registered charity founded in the aftermath of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami by a group of second generation Sri Lankan students.
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