October 19, 2017
Diwali, also known as the “Festival of Lights” is one of the most joyous holidays in India. Its name originates from “Avali”, meaning row, and “Deepa”, meaning clay lamps, because of the row of clay lamps Indians light outside their homes. It is a celebration with families and friends ringing in the Hindu New Year.
Indians across the country celebrate this national festival, but depending on where people live their interpretation of the origination of Diwali differs. The one common belief, regardless of region, is that the festival marks the victory of good over evil. As Diwali coincides with the Hindu New Year, it can represent new beginnings. Many people join in the festivities in hopes of it granting them good luck in the New Year.
Celebrations go on for 5 days, with each having its own significance. Dhanteras: On the first day families clean their homes and shop. Naraka Chaturdashi or Choti Diwali: People wake up on the second day and apply aromatic oils to their bodies to remove all sins. They wear new clothes and enjoy lighting diyas. Diwali: The third day is the main day of the festival! Families gather for prayer to Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, in order to be blessed with good fortune. Families exchange gifts, feast, and light off fireworks. Govardhan Puja or Padva: The fourth day is the first day of the New Year. This day is spent visiting friends and families. Bhai Dooj: The fifth and last day is for brothers and sisters. Brothers visit their sisters who welcome them with a big meal, representing the duty of a brother to protect his sister. This is similar to Raksha Bandhan, which happened back in August, where the bond between these siblings is celebrated.
As with many holidays, food can be a central part of celebrating. Families share sweets and eat great meals to symbolize year-round culinary riches. To help you celebrate, please reference our Chaat and Raita recipes on the website.