Wink, I thought you were Catholic?? LOL
Catholic, no, not at all. Christian, sure.
For those of you unfamiliar with Diwali:
What is Diwali? We have complied the important facts about Diwali so you can learn all about this festive holiday! Be sure to also look at our beautiful Diwali cards.
Diwali is India’s biggest and most well known holiday. It is known as the “festival of lights” and it celebrates the Hindu new year.
Diwali is a popular festival not just amongst Hindus, but also in other religions like Jainism, Buddhism and Sikkhism. It is celebrated by people all over the world.
Diwali is believed to be the time of transition from darkness unto light – the light that empowers us to commit ourselves to good deeds and which brings us closer to divinity.
Diwali falls on different days each year. The exact days are calculated by the lunar Hindu calendar. It occurs on the 15th day of the Hindu month of Kartika. According to the Gregorian calendar, it typically falls in October or November.
Diwali is celebrated for a period of 5 days. Each days has it’s own significance, rituals and myths. The third day is celebrated as the main Diwali festival, and is known as the “festival of lights”. The five days of Diwali are Dhanteras, Narak Chaturdashi, Deepawali, Govardhan and Bhaidooj.
In 2009, Diwali (the main Diwali festival on the 3rd day of the 5 day festival) falls on October 17th.
Diwali is held in honour of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi. She is the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Hindus pray to Lakshmi to bring them good luck in the coming year.
Diwali signifies the triumph of good over evil. Most of the legends associated with Diwali have the same underlying message.
The most popular legend of Diwali is that of Lord Rama, from the epic Ramayana. In the legend, Prince Rama and his wife Sita are banished from their home in Ayodhya by their father, the king. Rama, Sita and Rama’s brother, Lakshmana, go to live in a forest. After many years, Sita is kidnapped by Ravana, a ten-headed demon. He takes Sita to the island of Lanka. With the help of Hanuman, the monkey warrior, Rama rescues his wife. The people of Ayodhya light diyas in rows to guide Rama and Sita back from the forest to Ayodhya. On their return, Rama is crowned king. Diwali celebrates the return of Rama and Sita.
The preparations for Diwali begin months in advance. It is traditional to do a spring house cleaning to spruce it up and to welcome Goddess Lakshmi into your home. People white-wash their houses and buy new house-hold items like gold or silver ornaments and utensils. Over the past few years, electronic equipment/gadgets, automobiles and other luxury items have also been added to the Diwali shopping list.
In the evening of Diwali, many Hindus hold puja (prayer) in their homes. They honor Lord Ganesh, the elephant-headed god and symbol of auspiciousness and wisdom, and they worship Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and good fortune.
The word Diwali means “rows of lighted lamps”. It is called the “Festival of Lights” because people light diyas (small oil lamps) to welcome the goddess Lakshmi into their homes. Hindus believe that the goddess brings wealth with her when she visits. Hindus place the diyas around their home, by doors and windows, on roof tops, and along outer walls. The lights are left burning all night so that Lakshmi may feel welcomed and enter.
Another way people decorate their homes is to draw patterns on the ground outside. The patterns are called Rangoli. They are made of a mixture of rice flour and water, or even colored powder like sand.
During Diwali, people dress up in new clothes. Because Diwali celebrates the Hindu new year, it is often customary to get some item of new clothing. Gifts are often exchanged, and these are often sweets, clothing or candles. Homes are decorated with red, green and yellow decorations. Fireworks are a big part of celebrations.
The illumination of homes with lights and the skies with firecrackers is an expression of obeisance to the heavenly for the attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace and fame. According to one belief, the sound of fire-crackers are an indication of the joy of the people living on earth, making the gods aware of their plentiful state.
The tradition of gambling on Diwali also has a legend behind it. It is believed that on this day, Goddess Parvati played dice with her husband Lord Shiva and she decreed that whosoever gambled on Diwali night would prosper throughout the ensuing year.
Shubh Deepawali! is the traditional greeting. It literally translates to “have an auspicious Diwali”. People exchange this greeting as they meet friends and family.
Shubh Deepawali to you and your family!