Know Your Neighbour: Diwali

Know Your Neighbour: Diwali


What is Diwali?

Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a major festival celebrated throughout India and parts of wider Asia. It celebrates prosperity and the New Year, as well as the triumph of good over evil. It is celebrated by three different faith traditions; the Hindus, the Sikhs, and the Jains.

When is Diwali?

Diwali falls on the date of the new moon between the Hindu months of Asvina and Kartika. Which means it usually takes place in October or November.

This year Diwali starts on 11th November.

Why is Diwali celebrated?

For Hindus, Diwali is the most important annual festival where they celebrate both the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi and the New Year. The festival is a celebration of the victory of light of darkness; of good over evil; knowledge over ignorance.

Meanwhile, for the Sikh community, this day is about the release from prison of the sixth Guru Hargobind.

And, for Jains, this day marks the anniversary of the day when the sage Mahavira gave his last teachings and achieved ultimate liberation.

How is Diwali celebrated?

The word ‘Diwali’ means ‘rows of lighted lamps’ and so Diwali is often celebrated with the lighting of lamps. The lamps represent the sun as giver of light and energy to all life, overcoming darkness and evil.

However, this can sometimes be a little more extravagant with huge fireworks displays, as well as dancing and electronic lighting.

Diwali also involves Lakshmi Puja – prayer, invocations and rituals for the goddess Lakshmi – and the distribution of new clothes, sweetmeats and other gifts.

Of course, there is also a celebratory meal!

Last weekend there were Diwali celebrations taking place in one of our host cities, Leicester, and it looks like it was good fun.

There are loads of Diwali celebrations happening across England, so make sure you search the Internet to find out how you can get involved!


Author: Mr Tim Burton-Jones

Date: 09 November 2015