Diwali, or Deepavali, is also known as the Festival of Lights. It is a celebration of goodness, knowledge, and hope. Rather like Christmas and New Year’s Eve rolled into one, the five-day fete is filled with parties, street festivals, fireworks, gift giving – and oh, yes, plenty of good food. Devotees commemorate the victory of good over evil by decorating their houses with clay oil lamps and candles, sharing sweets, buying new clothes and visiting family and friends.
Though Diwali is definitely about lights, there are numerous other simple yet beautiful ways to celebrate it. Make it a Diwali with a difference with the following ideas.
Diwali is celebrated, primarily to herald the coming of the goddess Lakshmi. Prayers are offered to her, asking for her blessings in the form of wealth. As such, a rangoli design is created at the entrance of the house, not only to welcome the guests that visit, but also the goddess herself. Rangoli patterns are usually made using coloured chalk, rice powder, and colored lentils.
For an elaborate decoration inside the house create a floral rangoli in the balcony or at the centre of your living room hall, and place a few diyas around it or interspersed in the rangoli.
Use fresh and colourful flowers to decorate your house. A simple table arrangement with a few candles around it will simply uplift the ambience at dinner. Place bunches of flowers in vases around the corners of your house.
Burn lamps every night during the festival
Diwali is the time to bring out all your candles and tea light collections and light up your house. In the evening, light small oil lamps (called “diyas”) and place them around the home. Turn all the lights on and light some candles. The lamps symbolize knowledge or one’s inner light, which brings about inner peace and fights off any traces of darkness and ignorance.
Hang paper or cloth lanterns on your balcony ceiling. If you have a garden, hang small, coloured candle lanterns on low tree branches. Use candles to create centre pieces. Get a few plain drinking glasses, place a couple of marigolds or a single lily at the bottom of the glass, fill water halfway and light a floating candle on top.
Lighting up the night
Lights and fireworks have a significant role to play in this festival. Firecrackers are set off from dusk, often throughout the night. The noise is believed to herald the defeat of evil and catch the attention of the gods. This is why, when we heard the name Diwali, the first impression that flashes through our minds is of multicolored and impressive fireworks, sprinkling various sorts of bright colored lights in the night sky. Although the tradition of fireworks on Diwali is not very old, still they have succeeded in becoming such a vital part of this festival that we can’t even imagine a wonderful Diwali without them.
What is eaten during the five-day festival?
The immediate answer is sweets – and plenty of them. Indian sweetmeats, known as “mithai” are a cross between snack, dessert and confectionery. If there’s one thing that captures the Indian culinary psyche, it’s mithai. Some of the traditional Diwali Mithai include laddoo, barfi, halwa, soan papdi, moti pak.
Apart from mithai little morsels of Diwali snacks such as mathiya – lentil flour discs, crescent moon shaped pastries known as ghughra and little spirals of chakri are nibbled throughout the day, on their own, or with masala chai or as part of a meal alongside other savoury items.
A profusion of traditional goodies means the festival of lights might almost be called the festival of sweets.
Host a Party on Diwali today or during Diwali weekend and get together with friends, family, neighbours; after all it’s the time to meet people and have a good time.