Diwali falls on Thursday, October 23 this year. It is India’s biggest and most important holiday but celebrated globally. Diwali is a time to celebrate with family, food, fireworks and fun!
What is Diwali?
Literally “Diwali” means row of lights. Diwali is a five day festival of lights. Diwali began as a harvest festival marking the last harvest of the year. Many Indian businesses use the first day of Diwali to mark the end of the fiscal year.
What Does Diwali Celebrate?
It marks the triumph of good over evil.
Who Celebrates Diwali?
Diwali is for everybody because it celebrates universal values of good over evil. It is a great time to celebrate with family and friends and eat delicious food.
Religious significance for many include:
For Hindus: Diwali marks the new year in the Hindu calendar. It represents the day Lord Rama returned after 14 years of exile after conquering the demon Raavan.
Along with Goddess Lakshmi, offerings are made to Ganesha who symbolizes ethical beginnings and fearless remover of obstacles; Saraswati who symbolizes music, literature and learning; and Kubera who symbolizes book keeping, treasury and wealth management.
For Sikhs: The celebration is known as Bandi-Chhor Diwas, to mark the return of their sixth guru, Guru Hargobind, who was freed from imprisonment and also managed to arrange the release of 52 Hindu kings (political prisoners) at the same time from the famous fort of Gwalior.
And so the kings were freed and the Guru became known popularly as the “Bandi Chhor” (Deliverer from prison). He arrived to Amritsar on Diwali day and the Golden Temple was lit with hundreds of lamps to celebrate his return and hence the day came to be known as the “Bandi Chhor Divas” (“prisoner release day”, “freedom day”).
For Jains: It marks the anniversary of attainment of Nirvana (the ultimate state of peace) of Lord Mahavira, the last of the Jain Tirthankar of this era.
How Do People Celebrate?
Do you want to celebrate Diwali in true fashion? Follow the following steps:
- Clean your house – it’s considered lucky
- Decorate your home with clay lamps, and candles
- Light some fireworks (but check your laws and play safe)
- Buy new clothes (seriously – it’s an excuse to go shopping!)
- Eat sweets
- Exchange gifts (it is especially auspicious to buy gold)
- Create rangoli (colourful patterns in entranceways)
Diwali in Vancouver
Diwali has grown over the past couple decades in Vancouver to be celebrated by more than just the South Asian community. Of course, in the 90s you saw Little India with divas (tealights) lit around all the stores and folks packing the two blocks to buy sweets, clothes, and jewellery. By nightfall, Little India was lit up with a plethora of fireworks lighting the streets and the sky, the brightest part of the city.
Today, you will notice Diwali festivities have scattered around Metro Vancouver and become a more cross-cultural event. Much of the South Asian community now resides in Surrey and that’s where you’ll find the best sweet shops and food. However, you will notice homes across Metro Vancouver with all their lights on, divas in front, and munching on delicious food and sweets with their families.
Large celebrations are taking place all around the Lower Mainland for people of all cultures. Check out our Diwali Fest 2014 Events Guide.