It’s autumn back in India, the weather is perfect and it’s time to get together and indulge in delicious and authentic Indian food and sweets, shop for traditional clothes, decorate the house with lights and have lots of fun. Yes, that’s right, it’s time for DIWALI!
Diwali is a sight to behold as the whole country is lit up like an ocean being sun-kissed on a beautiful morning. The celebrations last for about five days with Diwali being the third and the most important day. It marks the beginning of the new year as per the Hindu calendar. In north India, people celebrate the festival of lights to mark the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya along with Sita and brother Lakshman after a 14-year exile. While in South India, it signifies the victory of Lord Krishna over demon Narakasura. Diwali symbolises the victory of light over darkness, good over evil and hope over despair. Festivals like these are the best way to experience a place and learn about its culture. Many tourists across the world travel to India to experience this grand feast along with its charm, grandeur and splendour.
As a child, I remember my excitement for unwrapping the presents received during the festivities. Having a sweet tooth, the part I cherished the most was when my relatives and friends brought me assorted chocolates and sweets. My elder sister and I created intricate Rangoli art at the entrance of our house either with rice or coloured powder. We lighted the whole house with candles and diyas and then visited the temple for the prayers in the evening. It is believed that goddess Laxmi visits the home that is clean and tidy and thus blesses the entire family. Our family also had a tradition when it came to food, and my mum made delectable Pulaoh (rice mixed with potato, peas and other veggies) and a curry for dinner on the night of Diwali every year.
Diwali cannot be complete without fireworks. The celebration could be as simple as lighting some sparkles at home or a magnificent and colourful firework display which is quite common in many metropolitan cities across the globe. Celebrate India organises an annual event around Diwali for Victorians at the famous Federation Square in Melbourne. This event consists of soul-stirring music, theatre and drama, dance performances, henna painting, bustling bazaar and authentic Indian street food.
This festivity is not just about culture and traditions but it’s more so about spreading happiness. The festival has a different vibe and the atmosphere is filled with positivity and harmony. Moreover, it unifies every religion, every home as well as every heart.
In the end, I can say that the essence and meaning of Diwali can be summed up in the below Salok which focusses on filling our hearts with love, warding off any ignorance with the light of knowledge and truth, and being at peace within.
Asato ma sad gamaya
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya
Mṛityorma amṛitam gamaya
Aum Shantih Shantih Shantih
From ignorance, lead me to truth;
From darkness, lead me to light;
From death, lead me to immortality;
May there be peace, peace, peace…
By Archita Baweja
(Archita Baweja of Melbourne is an engineer by profession but a writer at heart)
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