Diwali, the Festival of Lights
is a joyous and celebratory time and it is the biggest festival celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists around the world.
Its significance for our world today is very real because during this festival, the Hindus celebrate the victory of good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, light over darkness.
It is celebrated in honour of Lord Ram, the lord of virtue who returned to Ayodhya after an exile of fourteen years. This festival is also linked to Goddess Lakshmi – the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. It is believed that when the news of Lord Ram returning to his homeland reached Ayodhya, the entire city was lit with thousands of oil lamps (diyas) and decorated with flowers and beautiful rangolis. Since then, Diwali has been known as the festival of lights.
In order to welcome Lord Ram into their homes, people decorate their houses with oil lamps, which is why the festival is also called ‘Deepavali’. The tradition of lighting oil lamps symbolizes the victory of good over evil. People also welcome Goddess Lakshmi by drawing beautiful rangolis, and Paduka (footsteps) on the entrance of their houses.
There is also a tradition of distributing sweets and dry fruits to friends, relative and neighbours to celebrate the festival of Diwali. There is also a strong belief in giving to those in need. Fireworks are also set off to add to the festivities.
Sikhs use Diwali to mark the anniversary of the release from prison of Guru Hargobind in 1619.
For Buddhists, this day represents the time Emperor Ashoka gave up everything and adopted a path of peace after going through bloodshed and death. The day is observed as Ashok Vijayadashami.
This year 2017, Diwali will be celebrated between October 18th to 19th depending on the local tradition and culture of the country but it coincides with the 15th day of Kartik, the holiest month in the Hindu lunar calendar.
May the beauty of Deepavali fill your home with happiness, and may the coming year provide you with everything that brings you joy!
Wishing you Happy Diwali from the Columban Sisters around the world.