Diwali: Sunday, Nov. 3rd

Submitted by: Indian Student Association (ISA) – check out their website for more information on the ISA at http://isawisconsin.wix.com/isa2013.

The festival of Diwali takes place in the beginning of November every year. The festival, also known as Deepavali, is nicknamed the “Festival of Lights”. It is celebrated over five days throughout India. It originated as a harvest festival.  There are various religious and regional interpretations of Diwali.  In Bengal, for instance, the festival celebrates a goddess while others believe it to be the celebration of marriage of two deities. The most commonly believed celebration is the triumph of good over evil.

Diwali is celebrated by lighting oil lamps, fireworks and lanterns, hence its nickname. Deepavali directly translates to “row of lights”.  Light is a symbol of illumination that is believed to bring people closer to divinity. It is believed to empower people to commit good deeds. This symbolism stems from the celebration of good’s triumph over evil.

In India, students have week-long holiday breaks.  In preparation for the festival, houses are cleaned thoroughly and decorated.  Endless varieties of sweets and delicacies are cooked. On Diwali, street corners everywhere are lit up with children playing with firecrackers and sweets are exchanged among family and friends. Diwali is celebrated around the globe in similar ways. Outside India, Diwali is more than just a religious celebration. It is also the celebration of the South Asian culture and identity.

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