Happy Diwali to all of our students, staff, friends and partners!
But hands up, who actually knows what Diwali is?! No worries if not, The Metro have produced this dead handy guide of everything you need to know about the stunning festival of light.
Diwali – or the Festival of Lights – is the biggest and brightest of all the Hindu celebrations.
An ancient festival to celebrate the triumph of light over dark and good over evil, Diwali – from the Sanskrit word deepawali – is also significant in other religions including Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism.
It marks the homecoming of the God Lord Ram after vanquishing the demon king Ravana.
Diwali is also the Hindu New Year and therefore a major holiday in India, although it’s also celebrated by millions across the world, from India, Nepal and Malaysia to right here in the UK, with thousands attending Diwali lights switch-on events around the country.
The main festival night of Diwali takes place on the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika – all the better to see the fireworks and enjoy the symbolic burning of lamps and candles.
When is it?
The date of Diwali changes from year to year – it varies according to the Hindu Lunisolar calendar – but it is usually in October or November.
This year the main festivities will take place on Wednesday 11 November, but the preparations began on Monday 9 November and typically rituals and preparations will be going on for five days.
There are other festive days surrounding the main day of Diwali too. The main celebration is marked by Dhanteras (specific to some Northern and Western parts of India), Naraka Chaturdasi on the second day, Deepawali on the third, Diwali Padva (a day to honour married couples) on the fourth day and Bhau-beej, a day to honour siblings, on the fifth.
Dhanteras falls 18 days after Dussehra, which is how Diwali’s date is determined each year.
How is it celebrated?
Lights, lamps, fireworks, music, food, decorations – garlands of marigold-like flowers and jasmine will be sold on stalls all over India.
Homes are decorated with small clay oil lamps called diyas, lit in honour of Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, while fireworks will be set off in celebration – often launched into the sky from the streets or snapped on to the pavement at your feet.
Rangoli patterns are created using rice, paint, coloured sand or flower petals – colourful geometric designs for the entrance ways, living rooms or courtyards of houses that encourage and welcome the goddess Lakshmi.
Gifts and sweets may be exchanged, happy Diwali wishes and greetings are sent – increasingly via social media – and lavish festive meals will be prepared, while people like to buy and wear new clothes – making this a huge date in the Indian shopping calendar too.
It’s also a time that sees people thoroughly clean their homes and gardens to welcome in the New Year.
Then windows will be opened so that Lakshmi can enter homes to bring prosperity. The day after Diwali is also the beginning of the new financial year for Indian businesses.