Happy Diwali everyone!!! Diwali is a festival of lights and one of my favorite festivals. This is the time of the year, we spring clean our homes, throw the junk out, and believe Goddess Lakshmi (the Goddess of wealth and prosperity) will visit our homes. Goddess Lakshmi is very rich and abundant. It is believed that on the night of Diwali, she visits houses that are super clean and resides there for the rest of the year. We decorate our homes with dazzling lights and lamps. Diwali is a public holiday in India, people spend the entire day cleaning, cooking, and prepare for evening prayers. At night, people pray with friends and families and offer various delights to Goddess Lakshmi. Lord Ganesha is also worshipped along with her.
People make Rangoli, a design with colors and flowers, and decorate it with earthen lamps. People buy new clothes, jewelry, electronics, etc, its more than Christmas for Indians. I love decorating the house and dressing up. Families and friends join together to celebrate this big festival with pomp and show. In the evening after the prayers, children burst firecrackers, although its losing charm as people are more cautious about pollution. Even in India, new laws have come up.
There are different customs to celebrate Diwali across India. While Sikh celebrates Bandi Chhor and Gujaratis start their new year on this auspicious day. There is a feast prepared on Diwali which also differs, we make Gujiyas on Holi in the North while people in the West make it during Diwali. Some people keep fast the whole day to make offerings for God and break it after the prayers.
Back in the day, our houses got painted every year before the festival. We made floral designs at the doorsteps which had to start at least 15 days earlier. It looks somewhat like Henna designs but traditional with red and white paint. My mother makes it with Red powder and rice flour every year, its considered very auspicious.
We make Singhals for offerings, I believe our ancestors created a sweet resembling Gomti Chakra as Goddess relates with it. Gomti Chakra, a War-quoit of Gomti River in India, chakra means wheel. Keeping Gomti Chakra in the house eliminates negative energy and is considered very auspicious.
May the festival of lights brighten the darkest corners of your lives!