Diwali: The Festival of Light

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Diwali

By KATHLEEN MULROY

Diwali, which is often called the Festival of Light, is one of the most popular and significant Hindu holidays. But it’s not just celebrated in India. This five-day fall festival can be found anywhere followers of Indian culture live, including locations in Idaho and Montana.

The main focus of Diwali is celebrating the victory of light over darkness, the triumph of knowledge over ignorance, and good winning over evil. Many Indians also honor Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity and the wife of the god Vishnu, during the festival.

Another term for Diwali is Deepavalli. In Sanskrit, this means “a row of lamps.” A common tradition throughout India during the festival is filling little clay lamps with oil and a wick and lighting them in rows inside and outside the house.

The lit lamps symbolize the inner light that believers feel protects them from spiritual darkness. In the evening of the first day of Diwali, many worshipers practice a ritual to drive away evil spirits.

In the northern part of the country, people often incorporate into their Diwali celebrations a commemoration of King Rama’s return to Ayodhya after he defeated the demon king Ravana. Residents of Southern India celebrate the day that Lord Vishnu the Preserver. In some areas, the day after Diwali is marked with celebrations dedicated to the relationship between wife and husband.

People of other faiths celebrate Diwali, too. For Jains, Diwali marks the nirvana, or spiritual awakening, of Lord Mahavira on October 15, 527 B.C. For Sikhs, it honors the day that Guru Hargobind Ji, the Sixth Sikh Guru, was freed from imprisonment. Buddhists of the Newar sect celebrate the goddess Lakshmi during the holiday.

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Each day of the festival features a different type of celebration, with customs varying depending on the area. Throughout the country, families, friends, and colleagues exchange gifts and feast on special foods, including extravagant sweets.

Houses and businesses are often renovated and decorated, with’ traditional motifs that welcome Lakshmi.

Small footprints—representing the goddess’s feet—may be drawn with rice flour and vermillion powder on walls and floors. In many Indian villages, Hindus worship cows as the reincarnation of Lakshmi, so cows are particularly adorned and venerated during Diwali.

Images of deities in Hindu temples are often given milk baths and dressed in sumptuous clothing and jewelry, as well as presented with a wide variety of sweets. Especially in northern India.

Diwali festivities will be held in Idaho at the Boise Hare Krishna Temple and Vedic Cultural Center, on Sunday, October 27, from 6 to 9 p.m. (In 2019, this is the first day of Dewali.) The Temple asks that all who attend light a candle for peace and prosperity. A cultural program will be presented. The address is 1615 W Martha Street, Boise ID 83706. (They also have a second entrance at 2470 W. Boise Ave, ID 83706.) For more information, call (208)344-4274. The website is boisetemple.org.

In Missoula, Montana, a new age/neo-pagan church, called Opus Aima Obscurae Temple Haus, plans to celebrate Diwali. They will begin by lighting ghee-oil lamps, and attendees will throw lucky coins and rice. The Temple is located at 9463 Miller Creek Road. (The date and time is yet to be announced at the time of this newspapers publication. Call (406)926-1802. MSN