WHAT: DIWALI 2018
WHY: INDIAN RELIGIOUS FESTIVAL
WHERE: ACROSS THE GLOBE
WHEN: WEDNESDAY 7TH NOVEMBER 2018
The Indian Festival of Diwali (aka Deepavali/Lamp Festival or Festival of Light) is primarily a Hindu Festival which is also observed by Sikhs and Jains. The festival marks the return of Lord Rama, who was the 7th re-incarnation of the God Vishnu, from a 14-year exile in the Hindu faith.
This event is celebrated by a staggering 800 million people worldwide and with India being one of the most populated countries on the planet, this comes as no surprise.
The Festival of Light is celebrated on the darkest night in the month of Kartik (which is the 7th month of the Bikram Sambat calendar) which runs from 18th October to 15th November.
Over in India, the homes, temples and streets are decorated with colourful lights called Diyas and garlands of marigolds. Another part of the traditional celebrations includes fireworks or firecrackers; most of which are made in the town of Sivaski in Tamil Nadu. Diwali runs for 5 days, but most of the celebrations outside India, take part on the 3rd day. These usually include buying new clothes, giving sweet stuffs like Gulab Jamun (like a deep fried super sweet dumpling) Barfi (like a fudge with coconut, almond or pistachio flavourings) and Kulfi (Indian ice cream – extra sweet of course) and of course the warming glow of the little lamps or Diyas.
In Hindu, special blessings are offered to the goddess Lakshmi; goddess of wealth and prosperity and Ganesha, the remover of obstacles. Lakshmi is said to visit all homes on Diwali, beginning with the cleanest first, spreading the wealth as she continues her journey. Of course, this serves to get everyone scrubbing their homes before lighting the Diyas to welcome the goddess.
Whilst it was first and foremost a Hindu celebration, it is also widely celebrated by Sikhs who celebrate the release of their 6th guru Hargobind Singh, who was imprisoned by the Muslim leader Emperor Jahangir along with 52 princes (Rajas) who were political prisoners who were being held for a ransom of ‘millions of rupees’. Emperor Jahangir agreed to let the guru go but Guru Hargobind would not accept his freedom if the rajas were unable to leave also. Jahangir said that he could leave with as many prisoners who could ‘hold onto his cloak’. He outsmarted Jahangir by adding 52 ‘tails’ to his gown, enabling them all to escape together.
Fireworks and firecrackers are widely used to frighten off any evil spirits. The number of people using firecrackers has resulted in a blanket ban on their use in major cities like New Delhi. But this decision was met with a great deal of backlash when Hindu’s saw it as an attack on their religion and freedom to celebrate their faiths special feast day as it has been for several hundred years. However, with air pollution levels so high, it was a no-brainer to not have the usual smog following previous Diwali celebrations.
When the Passfire team from the USA visited India, they were fascinated that everywhere else in the world, salutes/maroons were being launched in mortar tubes but over in India, they are dropped into tube-shaped holes in the ground (they do say you work with what you have!).
If you are celebrating Diwali here in the UK, we have a brand new barrage called ‘Festival Of Light’ which would be a spectacular addition to your celebrations.