The Hindu Festival of Lights and why it is so important
Diwali, a Hindu holiday known as the Festival of Lights, was celebrated on Saturday, November 14. “To me, Diwali is a time when I can come together with my family for this very auspicious celebration and both honour the meaning behind Diwali and take this chance to come together,” said second-year Biology student Rohin Minocha-McKenney. “I celebrate to maintain my culture, be with family and celebrate the meaning of Diwali, the celebration of light, the celebration of good over evil.”
Although Diwali is traditionally a Hindu holiday, it is also celebrated in multiple non-Hindu communities throughout India, including those that practice Jainism.
“We celebrate Diwali to mark new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil. It’s a festival that is celebrated all over India, a country with such a diverse cultural background. This festival brings people together and brings a wave of joy and prosperity for everyone. It also keeps us connected to our roots and historical background,” said second year Commerce student Pushkaraj Jadhav, who is the Vice President of MOSAIC.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Diwali celebrations look different around campus this year. MOSAIC, the multicultural organization on campus, celebrates this festival annually.
Former Mt. A student Duncan Hall mentioned that “COVID has drastically affected how Diwali was celebrated this year. Normally we would pack as many people as we could into that small living room; unfortunately that wasn’t an option this year. We set up a Zoom meeting and my grandmother and one of her friends came over to our house where we set up a small venue. The family could not be reunited, but we still lit diyas, ate delicious food, and celebrated our ancestors. COVID can take away the people, but the heart of Diwali still beats strong.”
“In the previous years, Diwali was celebrated on a large scale at Mt. A as an in-person event and was celebrated in the Convocation Hall. It was beautifully decorated with lights, colourful rangolis and an aura of happiness,” said Jadhav.
“I helped organize Diwali last year as an event coordinator for MOSAIC, and it was one of the best Diwali’s I have ever celebrated. We had more than 100+ people who joined us for the celebration. MOSAIC had organised food and performances, along with a candle lighting ceremony. We had placed candles in front of the Convocation Hall. Everyone who joined us got to light a candle and got the chance to feel the essence of Diwali. There was music playing along and we ended the night with everyone dancing to some Bollywood tunes. It made me feel like I was back in India.”
This year, Jadhav explained that MOSAIC hosted a Diwali gathering over MS Teams. “We decided to give away care packages, which included candles, chocolates and a note from the MOSAIC Team, along with an option of ordering Indian Food, to the people who wanted to celebrate this auspicious day with us. The virtual ceremony started off with a small speech about the origin of Diwali and its importance in Indian culture. It was followed by a two-minute candle lighting ceremony, where people were asked to light candles in their respective homes, to symbolize the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil. Finally, we had a traditional performance by one of our exec members, Padmapriya, who performed a classical dance and took us on a journey to explore her culture.”
Diwali is a very important holiday for those who celebrate it. According to National Geographic, Diwali is to Hindu’s what Christmas is to Christians.
“Diwali is mainly a five-day celebration in my house, and it starts with Dhanteras, a day where the house is cleaned and decorated with lanterns, diyas and rangolis. Everyone dresses up in traditional clothes and worships the Hindu deities which is then followed by traditional festival food,” said Jadhav.
“Another important part of Diwali is Laxmi Pooja, where people worship Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, prosperity and auspiciousness. We decorate the house and prepare sweet treats and delicacies as offerings to the goddess. Laxmi Pooja is a way to invite the goddess Laxmi to our homes, so that she can give us her blessings. This day is also celebrated by bursting fireworks. The main part of Diwali for me is that I get to eat the special delicacies that are made only on Diwali and, also a sense of togetherness that I feel with my loved ones.”
“To me Diwali is a celebration of those who came before. It is also a night of reflection, to reaffirm the balance between dark and light in one’s life. It’s also an opportunity for family to come together, no matter how distant their relation is,” said Hall.
As said previously, MOSAIC is a multicultural organization on campus. They celebrate culture and holidays from around the world. There is no fee to join. To contact MOSAIC email them at [email protected] or find them on Facebook or Instagram.