What is Diwali?
Once a year in autumn, during the darkest new moon in the Hindu month Kartik, Hindu communities and temples will shine bright with millions of candles and lamps. This celebration, known as Diwali – or the festival of lights – dates all the way back to ancient times! Diwali 2015 is celebrated on November 11th and for several days after, depending on the family’s religion and traditions.
The traditional name of this holiday, Deepawali originates from the Sanskrit words deep, meaning light and avali, meaning row. Depending on the region and religion, the duration of the festival (3-5 days) as well as the history and origin of the holiday may vary. Although Diwali is mainly a family affair, Diwali is also a religious day for many Hindus. Many celebrate the holiday to bring prosperity and good health to their families.
How to Celebrate Diwali
Donate to your favorite cause. Many versions of the Diwali celebrations include “washing your wealth.” This can mean literally washing your coins with milk and water, or sharing your wealth with those in need.
Add candles and lights around your house. The Festival of Lights simply calls for illumination! Candles called diyas are filled with oil and displayed throughout homes. The vibrant display is an expression of respect to the deities for the prosperity in life.
Decorate with color. Many families will create rangolis (pictured on right) and display them in front of their house to add more vibrancy and color to the celebration.
Bake traditional foods. Diwali calls for sweets, and lots of them! Some of the most popular desserts for this holiday include Gulab Jalum – a fried, milk-based treat and Halwa – a dense, nut based dessert.
Play games. Gambling and games are a common tradition in Diwali celebrations. Play for candy or simply for memories – invite the extended family and make it a family affair!
Plan a romantic night out. In many versions of the celebration, the fourth day of Diwali is dedicated to nurturing the marital relationship. Whisk your partner away with a carefully-planned date they will never forget.
Catch up with siblings. One of the last days of the festival focuses on the brother-sister relationship. Grab your sibling(s) and plan an outing or activity you can all bond over!
Participate in local community events. For a truly authentic experience, research Diwali celebrations in your local community or Hindu Temple!