Happy Deepavali

Deepavali is the festival of Lights. The word ‘Deepavali’ is made up of two simple words. ‘Deepa’ means light and ‘Avali’ means a row. Hence ‘Deepavali’ means a row of lights. This is perhaps the most well-known of the Indian festivals. It is celebrated throughout India as well as in Indian communities around the world.

This festival usually falls around late October. It is common practice to light small oil lamps (called diyas) and place them around the home, in courtyards, verandahs, and gardens, as well as on roof-tops and outer walls. In urban areas candles are substituted for diyas; and among the nouveau riche, neon lights are made to substitute for candles. The celebration of the festival is invariably accompanied by the exchange of sweets and the explosion of fireworks.
India is rich in ethnic and cultural backgrounds so it comes as no surprise that Diwali signifies many different things to people across the country. In north India, Diwali celebrates Rama’s homecoming, that is his return to Ayodhya after the defeat of Ravana and his coronation as king; in Gujarat, the festival honors Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth; and in Bengal, it is associated with the goddess Kali. Everywhere, it signifies the renewal of life, and accordingly it is common to wear new clothes on the day of the festival. Fireworks and firecrackers go off during Deepavali and symbolize the use of fiery weapons used during the war that Krishna waged against the demon.

Some of the popular sweets are halwa, burfi and laddu. Hindus love eating spicy food and for non-vegetarians they indulge in favorites like chicken tandoori, prawn sambal and fish head curry. In homes of Hindus who are vegetarians popular dishes like thosais, idlis and naans are prepared. Most devout Hindus tend to be vegetarians.

What I like most about Deepavali is how people put aside their differences for this special occasion and the mood is festive and colorful. I was first introduced to the festival of lights when we lived in Singapore. It’s a national holiday there and Little India is decked out in all its glory with massive displays of lights, colorful stalls and a sense of happiness everywhere you go. As I said in an earlier post Sept.4), Indian’s are very hospitable and they enjoy sharing their food with others.


  1. Manisha on October 24, 2006 at 22:27

    Hey TCC, that’s a lovely and informative post on Deepavali! We tend to take so much for granted that sometimes I feel we need to be reminded of the ethos behind Diwali.

    Deepavali is indeed a wonderful festival! What’s even more wonderful is that in India, it’s celebrated by all – Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, alike!

    It was great to find out about Diwali in Singapore. It’s almost an un-Diwali in the US. Most folks don’t know it exists and I explain it away saying: “to us, it’s as big as Christmas is to you.” I’m sharing treats with my neighbors so they’re thrilled!

    Hope you had a great Deepavali!

  2. Viren on September 17, 2008 at 12:43

    Wow, Great Information on Diwali festival and very nice diwali pictures of diwali festival. I like god lakshmi’s picture. it is really very nice looking. Diwali is a major festival of india. But it is also true that Diwali remain incomplete without exchange of Diwali Gifts. But it is not possible for NRI People to meet relative and family on Diwali festival. So, they send online diwali gifts to india to their relative and loved one.