Every autumn around late October or early November, Hindus, Sihks and Jains around the world celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights.
This festival is by far the largest celebrated by these religions and is as big for these faiths as Christmas is to Christians.
This holiday is celebrated for five continuous days and the third day of celebration is the main Diwali festival.The actual date of Diwali changes every year since the day aligns with the position of the moon. The actual date of Diwali will occur on the fifteenth day of the dark two week time period in the favorable Hindu month of Kartik, known as October or November in the English calendar. Diwali will occur on Amavasya, also known as the day without a moon. In 2014, Diwali fell on Oct. 23.
The word Diwali actually means ‘rows of lighted lamps.’ This is a celebration of the triumph of good over evil as well as light over darkness. Therefore, light is an important symbol, both physically as well as spiritually, for the celebration of Diwali.
Diwali is celebrated with a great deal of light in the form of fireworks, candles and diyas, or oil lamps to overcome the darkness. Those who celebrate Diwali are in search for the blessings of wealth and goodness.
Another important aspect of the Diwali celebration is the exchange of gifts. Gifts are given to the ones who are dear to the hearts of those who celebrate Diwali. Since the exchanging of gifts is such an important aspect of this celebration, it is considered the largest gift giving and shopping holiday in India.
The idea of shopping of splurging is associated with prosperity; therefore people will generally go out of their way to spoil not only themselves, but their loved ones as well. Diwali gifts are exchanged in order to stimulate feelings of appreciation, love and affection. Such feelings are conveyed to loved ones through the giving of gifts.
This holiday is celebrated all over the United States. Secretary of State John Kerry hosted the Obama Administration’s annual Diwali celebration Thursday, Oct. 23, the actual day of Diwali. This celebration was held at the Benjamin Franklin Room at the United States Department of State. Kerry recognized the contributions that Indian and South-Asian Americans have made to the United States which align with the State Department’s role in instilling service and compassion in our country. Kerry also participated in the ceremonial lighting of a diya during the celebration.
The South Asian Association of Lancaster (SAAL) will celebrate Diwali this year at the Marriott Convention Center in Lancaster on Nov. 15. This celebration will include live music, dancing and traditional Indian food.
To learn more about this local celebration, please visit SAAL’s website at www.SAAL.us.