What is ‘The Festival of Lights’

written by Mary Mahinda 22nd October 2014

Kenya is made up of many culturally rich communities and throughout the year we get to indulge in various cultural celebrations but the mother of them all is the 5 day long Diwali celebration from the Hindu community.  Characterized by endless feasts and sweet indian treats, gifts and fireworks, this is one time of the year everyone looks forward to. Here’s some history on this one-of-a-kind festivity.

History of Diwali: The festival of lights

rangoli with oil lamps – courtesy imgarcade.com

Diwali is one of the merriest holidays in India, with significant preparations and its climax being the fireworks display,  which unfortunately was banned in Kenya sometime back. In the days leading to this great celebration, people clean their homes and decorate them for the festivities. People also buy new clothes for themselves and their families, along with other gifts including: sweets, appliances, kitchen utensils and gold jewelry. Sweets or Mithai are the most common gift for friends and family during this time, they include dry fruits, sweet pastries and seasonal specialities depending on regional harvest and customs. (make your own mithai at home with these easy guidelines)

History of Diwali: The festival of lights

sweets gift ides – Courtesy diwalifunideas.blogspot.com

Diwali is also a time when kids hear ancient stories and legends about the battle between good and evil or light and darkness, from their parents and elders. Girls and women go shopping, and create rangoli, using coloured flour or dry cereals, and other creative patterns on floors, near doors and walkways. Youth will eventually graduate to helping with lighting and preparing for patakhe (fireworks). Streets are also lit up with candles burning on the streets and houses fully lit with candles and oil lamps. For tips on how to host a Diwali party, read here.

For the full story behind why Diwali is celebrated watch this short animation below. Happy Diwali!

Video courtesy of MocomiKids

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