Diwali (pronounced Divali) is a five-day festival celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains and is one of the most significant annual festivals in Indian culture. The word Diwali originates from the Sanskrit word Deepaval and translates as ‘festival of lights’. The festival coincides with the Hindu New Year and usually takes place sometime between the middle of October and middle of November, with the day of Diwali celebrated on the third day of the festival. This spiritual time of year can have an effect on many people’s path. To help us with our readings we took a deeper look into what the festival means.
Why is Diwali celebrated?
Historically Diwali symbolises the victory of good over evil and is celebrated by individuals and whole communities. There are many legendary victorious folklore tales that have been passed down through generations and families that suggest the origins of Diwali. The most popular story dates back to the 15th century BC and tells of Lord Rama and his wife Sita, returning to their kingdom from exile, after defeating the demon King Ravanna.
How is Diwali celebrated? During Diwali – the festival of lights – millions of people attend firework displays and celebratory prayer events throughout the world. Homes are cleaned and decorated with traditional earthen divas (candle lamps) and colourful rangoli art – folk art patterns made on the floor using coloured powder or rice. The rangoli designs are made to encourage the Goddess Lakshmi - the goddess of wealth, and the principle deity associated with the religious festival – to enter the home. A delicious feast is prepared and shared with family and friends. As Diwali is all about celebrating harmony arguments and conflicts are settled at this time. Prayers are offered to Goddess Lakshmi so that she may provide assistance in cultivating the spiritual wealth of compassion, kindness and forgiveness throughout the New Year.
Celebrate Your Inner Light! The festival of lights, which takes place during Diwali around October/ November, is the perfect time to reflect on your inner light. You do not have to be religious to celebrate your own innate brilliance or to shine your light with compassion and kindness in your heart. During Diwali reflect on your thoughts, words and deeds over the past year and acknowledge how you can improve negative aspects of your behaviour, prejudices and habits. By gaining a better understanding of your self you can begin the process of personal transformation. Reflect on how you can be more loving, respectful and kind, and also how you can assist others to help them shine their own light in the world.
How To Shine Your Light Brightly. Celebrate Diwali in your own personal way by meditating on your unique innate brilliance and goodness. Light a candle and gaze at the flame for a few minutes. Breathe deeply to relax and connect with your inner light. Allow your heart to open fully as you embrace your inner light and invite it to shine brightly. Recite a prayer in English, or a Vedic or Sanskrit chant. Prayer is a powerful way of increasing your spiritual vibration and is also a great way to make a commit to yourself. Identify some simple ways in which you can share your light and spiritual wealth with others. Acknowledge your personal qualities that nurture your light and the qualities that dull its brilliance. Commit to letting go of negative qualities – such as greed, laziness and anger. Cultivate and nurture positive qualities of compassion, generosity, love and kindness throughout the New Year.
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