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8 Things to know about Diwali

Poole community annually celebrates Desi American Heritage

Candles
Festival of Lights Showcased in Nelson Hall

1 Diwali happens every November
Diwali, or Deepavali, is the Indian festival of lights, usually lasting five days and celebrated during the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika. One of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, Diwali symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance”.

2. Where is it celebrated and why? 

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3 Diwali lasts five days

Dhanteras:
Diwali begins with the first day known as ‘Dhanteras’ or the worship of wealth. People clean and decorate their homes.
Naraka Chaturdashi or Choti Diwali:
The second day is Naraka Chaturdashi or Choti Diwali. People wake up early and apply aromatic oils before taking a bath. This is said to remove all sins and impurities. They wear new clothes, offer Puja and enjoy lighting diyas and bursting a few crackers.
Lakshmi Puja:
The third day is the main Diwali festival. Lakshmi Puja is performed on this day. Tiny oil diyas, candles, and electric lights are placed around the house. Families exchange gifts and gather together to burst crackers.
Govardhan Puja or Padva:
The fourth day is Govardhan Puja or Padva. People make a small hillock, usually of cow dung, symbolizing Govardhan and worship it.
Bhai Dooj:
The fifth and last day is Bhai Dooj. On this day sisters invite their brothers for a lavish meal and perform a ‘tilak’ ceremony. Sisters pray for their brother’s long and happy life while the brothers give gifts to their sisters.

4 Rangoli decorating brings luck

Many people also decorate their doorways by drawing beautiful patterns on the ground using colored rice, powder, sand or flower petals. Diwali art, such as the Rangoli decoration is thought to bring good luck.

5 Diya oil lamps symbolize prosperity and optimism

A “diya” is an oil lamp used to light up homes during the Diwali festival and symbolizes prosperity and optimism. People light diyas to cancel out the darkness.

6 Lakshmi Puja blesses households with wealth and prosperity

It is also customary to worship goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, alongside Lord Ganesha. On the third day, the most auspicious day of the festival, every Hindu household performs the Lakshmi Puja – the worship of Lakshmi. Praying to the goddess ensures you are blessed with a wealthy and prosperous life.

7 Traditional Diwali food plays a big role

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Diwali is a joyous occasion, where traditional foods play a big role. While families do prepare savory dishes, sweet delicacies usually take center stage during the festival. Traditional Indian sweets, including Jalebi, Karanji, and Coconut laddoo are given as gifts to family, friends, and neighbors.

8 Firework displays to light the night sky

Finally, as it’s the festival of lights, it’s no surprise that spectacular firework displays are held throughout Diwali. They light up the night sky all over India and many other cities across the world. These displays usually take place on the evening of the third day of the festival, following feasts and celebrations.

To all of our readers celebrating Diwali, we wish you a healthy and prosperous year ahead!