Diwali, known as the Hindu ‘Festival of Light’ starts this weekend on Sunday, October 27. The holiday lasts for a total of five days, continuing until next month on November 1. Several different religions will observe Diwali this year.
HOW IS THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHT CELEBRATED?
Diwali originated in the Indian subcontinent thousands of years ago, now observed by several Indian religions. Observers are usually Hindu or Sikh, but others include Jains and sometimes Buddhists. Each religion has its own practices that come with the festival, but there are some general ways the more than one billion observers choose to celebrate. Diwali is the Festival of Light, so people celebrate for five days with light displays. The most traditional way to create a Diwali light display is with a Diya. Diyas are small clay candle holders, made for Diwali every year, lit and placed in groups outside the home or place of work.
People will decorate the interior of their homes with rangoli, patterns created on the floor using flour or rice. Rangoli is a complex art form used during most Hindu festivals and uses patterns passed down generations. Rangoli designs are believed to bring good luck to where they are placed and can be simple geometric and flower shapes or deity impressions.
During Diwali, some people will also choose to set off fireworks. Diwali tradition dictates people clean the home before they start celebrating. One of the most defining aspects of Diwali is the food, which includes a range of savoury and sweet dishes. Diwali is most well known for its sweet foods, especially during the second day of the festival which is dedicated to wealth and will see many people buy sweets for their loved ones. Most Indian sweets - known as ‘mithai’ - use a nut or vegetable base, condensed with sugar or milk.
HOW DO YOU SAY HAPPY DIWALI?
Greetings during Diwali come in a range of languages, including Hindi, Punjabi and Tamil, which are native to India. In Hindi, you can say “Diwali ki Shubhkamnayein” or “Shush Deepavali”. To wish someone a happy Diwali in Punjabi, you can say “Tuhanu Diwali diyan boht both vadhaiyan”. To greet someone in Tamil, you can say “Deepavali Nalvazhthukal” and in Marathi “Shush Diwali” or “Diwalichya hard Shubhechha”.