Archive | Diwali Special

DEWALI SPECIAL

Posted on 27 October 2016 by admin

Diwali, or Dipawali, is India‘s biggest and most important holiday of the year. The festival gets its name from the row (avali) of clay lamps (deepa) that Indians light outside their homes to symbolize the inner light that protects us from spiritual darkness. This festival is as important to Hindus as the Christmas holiday is to Christians or Eid holiday is to Muslims.

Diwali, celebrated in October or November each year, originated as a harvest festival that marked the last harvest of the year before winter. India was an agricultural society where people would seek the divine blessing of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, as they closed their accounting books and prayed for success at the outset of a new financial year. Today this practice extends to businesses all over the Indian subcontinent, which mark the day after Diwali as the first day of the new financial year.

Indians celebrate with family gatherings, glittering clay lamps, festive fireworks, strings of electric lights, bonfires, flowers, sharing of sweets, and worship to Lakshmi. Some believe that Lakshmi wanders the Earth looking for homes where she will be welcomed. People open their doors and windows and light lamps to invite Lakshmi in.

Over the centuries, Diwali has become a national festival that is enjoyed by most Indians regardless of faith: Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs.

Hindus interpret the Diwali story based upon where they live:

  • In northern India they celebrate the story of King Rama’s return to Ayodhya after he defeated Ravana by lighting rows of clay lamps.
  • Southern India celebrates it as the day that Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura.
  • In western India the festival marks the day that Lord Vishnu, the Preserver (one of the main gods of the Hindu trinity) sent the demon King Bali to rule the nether world.

In all interpretations, one common thread rings true—the festival marks the victory of good over evil.

Non-Hindu communities have other reasons for celebrating the holiday:

  • In Jainism, it marks the nirvana or spiritual awakening of Lord Mahavira on October 15, 527 B.C.
  • In Sikhism it marks the day that Guru Hargobind Ji, the Sixth Sikh Guru was freed from imprisonment.

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Celebrating Diwali In Canada

Posted on 27 October 2016 by admin

By Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma

This year Diwali falls right before Halloween. Since my family has adopted Halloween with a fervor, I am not sure what form our celebration will take.

Celebrating Diwali, the festival of lights, is a special time for millions of people around the world. Houses are decorated with oil lamps, candles, and strings of lights. Families feast and share gifts. This festival runs over a number of days and culminates in a night of fireworks. This used to be my favorite part of the festival because as a child I wasn’t allowed to play with fire, but come Diwali all bets were off!

The Meaning of Diwali

The festival is celebrated by more than a billion people around the world. Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists come together to celebrate this festival for different reasons and do so in a hundred different ways. The main theme running through this five-day celebration is the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance. The evening of the final day coincides with a dark no-moon night and is usually on a day between mid-October to mid-November. This year it falls on October 30.

Celebrating Diwali

In the first phase of Diwali celebrations, people clean and decorate their homes and offices. Decorative patterns are drawn on the ground with colored rice flour, sand, and flower petals. These designs are Rangoli and are made to welcome the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi with open arms. On the the final Diwali night everyone dresses in their finest clothes and lights up their homes to help the Goddess of Wealth (yes, she is!) find her way to them. In fact on this day people don’t turn off their lights at all in case the Goddess misses their homes.

I grew up in India and moved homes a number of times around the country with my parents. As a result my mom adopted traditions from different regions and incorporated them into our family’s celebration. Because of that our festival usually started on the third day. Our lights were a combination of string, candles, and brass and terracotta diyas inside and outside our home.

Over the next couple of days we would visit neighbors and friends with decorated trays of homemade sweets. Trays and gifts would be exchanged with much hugging and choruses of “Happy Diwali!” There would also be the occasional round of teen patti, or gambling with cards and money. Diwali is the biggest and most fun celebration for Hindus around the world, and this is one of the reasons why!

Finally on the last day of Diwali everybody in the neighborhood would set off fireworks. Once my brother and I were done with our fireworks we would hang out with others on rooftops to watch the world light up the dark Diwali night.

Diwali in Canada

Since my hubby and I moved to Canada, celebrating Diwali and other festivals we enjoyed during our childhood in India have taken on a different hue. Over the years we’ve made our own traditions especially around Diwali in Canada. Entertaining with friends, watching Indian movies, and playing Bollywood music all add to that feeling of celebration far away from India. I usually make traditional Indian sweets, and we decorate our home with lights and color. All of this is especially easy if Diwali falls on a weekend like this year. Making new traditions and celebrating is so much easier when it’s convenient as well.

This year Diwali falls right before Halloween. Since my family has adopted Halloween with a fervor, I am not sure what form our celebration will take. I know I have to give the timing some consideration as I plan the festival season. Perhaps I can convince my kids to go trick-or-treating in their Indian finery. Somehow I don’t think it’s going to be that easy. It never is.

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Diwali 2015: Here’s everything you need to know about the Festival of Light

Posted on 12 November 2015 by admin

Diwali – or the Festival of lights – is the biggest and brightest of all the Hindu celebrations. an ancient festival to celebrate the triumph of light over dark and good over evil, Diwali – from the Sanskrit word deepawali – is also significant in other religions including Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. it marks the homecoming of the God lord Ram after vanquishing the demon king

Ravana.

Diwali is also the Hindu New Year and therefore a major holiday in india, although it’s also celebrated by millions across the world, from india, Nepal and Malaysia to right here in the UK, with thousands attending Diwali lights switch-on events around the country.

The main festival night of Diwali takes place on the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu lunisolar month Kartika – all the better to see the fireworks and enjoy the symbolic burning of lamps and candles.

when is it?

The date of Diwali changes from year to year – it varies according to the Hindu lunisolar calendar – but it is usually in October or November.

This year the main festivities will take place on wednesday 11 November, but the preparations began on Monday 9 November and typically rituals and preparations will be going on for five days.

There are other festive days surrounding the main day of Diwali too. The main celebration is marked by Dhanteras (specific to some Northern and western parts of india), Naraka Chaturdasi on the second day, Deepawali on the third, Diwali Padva (a day to honour married couples) on the fourth day and Bhau-beej, a day to honour siblings, on the fifth.

Dhanteras falls 18 days after Dussehra, which is how Diwali’s date is determined each year.

How is it celebrated?

lights, lamps, fireworks, music, food, decorations – garlands of marigold-like flowers and jasmine will be sold on stalls all over india.Homes are decorated with small clay oil lamps called diyas, lit in honour of lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, while fireworks will be set off in celebration – often launched into the sky from the streets or snapped on to the pavement at your feet.

Rangoli patterns are created using rice, paint, coloured sand or flower petals – colourful geometric designs for the entrance ways, living rooms or courtyards of houses that encourage and welcome the goddess lakshmi.

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Diwali

Posted on 04 November 2015 by admin

What is Diwali?

In Hindu tradition, Diwali honours Lakshmi, the goddess of Wealth and other Diwali legends. It is also referred to as the festival of lights and celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.

When is Diwali?

Diwali is a five-day festival tied into the Hindu calendar that typically takes place between mid-October and mid-November, beginning on Wednesday 11 November in 2015.

What do people do during Diwali?

Practices and observances throughout Diwali vary considerably.

Lamps are lit to help Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, find her way into people’s homes.

The festival is also associated with large firework displays, spring-cleaning the home, wearing new clothes, exchanging gifts and preparing festive meals.

PERSONAL DIWALI CELEBRATION AT WORK

If your diwali celebration at work is more of a personal event, you can think about clearing and decorating your cube. In addition to the ideas there, you can bring in photos from your home or your kids celebrating Diwali and put them up in your cube or office for the day. They can be great conversation starters, and more importantly create a festive mood.

Bring in some dry fruits or the gold and silver coin candies to hand out the people who come to your cube or office that day.

Since it is more about your personal celebrations, don’t feel shy to wear a Diwali specific item or a screensaver (if your office rules permit) or cube decorations.

DIWALI PARTY AT WORK

As workplaces in Canada are becoming more multicultural, many workplaces or associations within workplaces are trying to celebrate diwali and other multicultural festivals.

When celebrating at work, there are many things to remember.

Sensitivity to your coworkers is one.

Second is remembering concerns and restrictions around allergies, fire safety, building rules.

Please check all of this from preventing the event from deteriorating into a mish mash of hurt emotions or reprimands. Remember to consider safety first and all building rules before lighting diyas at work! Unlit diyas work just as well.

Ideas to celebrate diwali at work:

o          Take beautiful Indian tablecloths or bed sheets to cover the tables in your cafetaria or office venue.

o          Create centerpieces by using unlit decorated diyas, empty containers of firecrackers, dry fruits and nuts. Dont light the diyas unless allowed by the office and then too carefully. Or create traditional rangoli or rangoli with colored rice.

o          Use traditional Indian flowers like marigold to decorate.

o          Print out traditional diwali images for a collage for your notice board.

o          Play some bollywood or other Indian music and if allowed. Some offices actually get people to teach bollywood dancing!

o          Serve Indian food, or sweets or just deserts, dry fruits, snacks (such as pita chips)

o          Have dishes of gold and silver coin chocolates to take away

o          Read up on Diwali traditions and reasons, and be ready to explain to all the people who show up.

o          Serve a cake with firecracker candles (if allowed by building people and HR)

o          Play a slideshow of Diwali images on TV

o          If its a large party, you can call a henna artist in for the event.

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Lighting the lives: Diwali fervor in full swing

Posted on 08 November 2012 by admin

Divya Kaeley

The Diwali season is here — five days of food, festivity, fireworks, friends, family and worship. For Hindus, Sikhs and Jains around the world these sacred days are not only a time of celebration and consumption, but one of reflection.

Diwali, is an auspicious religious festival celebrated by the Hindus, Sikhs and Jains with great enthusiasm and excitement that symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. Spectacular lights, firecrackers, mouth-watering traditional sweets and sending gifts to dear ones mark the celebration of Diwali or Deepavali (Sanskrit language). The Sanskrit translation of Deepavali means row of lights. The Hindus celebrate this festival to commemorate the homecoming of Lord Rama after 14 year-long exile and his victory over the mythological demon Ravana. For Jains, this festival carries the essence of spiritual upliftment because it marks the achievement of Nirvana or Moksha by Mahavira, the last Tirthankara. The Sikhs observe Diwali as the release and return of Guru Hargobind Ji, the sixth guru, and other 52 princes in 1619 by decorating the Golden Temple with colourful lights.

 Ahead of his India visit on Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper joined the Indo-Canadians at the 12th Annual National Diwali Celebration on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to honour the Festival of Lights. “This National Diwali Celebration, now in its 12th year, spreads goodwill between cultures and reinforces the close friendship between India and Canada,” the Prime Minister said in a statement on Thursday. He highlighted the Indo-Canadian community’s contributions to Canada during a Diwali celebration on Parliament Hill. “This national Diwali celebration, now in its 12th year, spreads goodwill between cultures and reinforces the close friendship between India and Canada,” he said. “With nearly one million Indo-Canadians living in Canada today, we are all very grateful for their contributions to our country and look forward to celebrating this festival honouring their culture.”

Canada has a unique multicultural facet to it– where every festival is celebrated with equal excitement. “Diwali, or the ‘Festival of Lights,’ illuminates the universal hope of all people for the renewal of life and the triumph of good over evil,” the Prime Minister reportedly said. “This is a journey that resonates with all Canadians and binds us together in our faith, dreams and aspirations for the future.”

We asked Helene Papadopoulos, a LINC teacher, about her idea of the Indian festival. “Diwali forms one of the fall festivals. We do recognize Diwali along with other prominent festivals of the season. In fact, we have a fall festival party every year in the month of November. Besides this, fall festivals are part of our curriculum too. We celebrate our cultural diversity by teaching our students about various festivals – that include Christmas, Eid, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Diwali or Christmas. We also ask our students to give presentations on various festivals,” she said.

Indo-Canadians have a variety of experiences celebrating the festival here. Sania Patel, living in Brampton for the past 10 years, said, “We can’t really light clay lamps outside as it’s all wooden but make it a point to visit either the Hindu Sabha temple or Ram Mandir for Lakshmi puja.” She mentioned the various cultural get-togethers that take place on the occasion of diwali – the latest one at Pearson Convention Center. “But the tickets tend to be costlier as the festival approaches. Moreover, we can’t really burst crackers as it’s not allowed except on the Diwali day.”

Said Surinder Singh, 60, who came to Canada about 15 years ago, “I don’t feel it’s the same Diwali here. In India, around Diwali, the markets and roads are decorated and there are different kinds of crackers available in the market. The festivity is hard to miss; distribution of sweets and gifts starts at least a month in advance. We do celebrate the festival, but it’s more of a westernized one,” he laughs.

For most Hindus, away from their homeland, the festival starts with wishing all near and dear ones, cleaning up their houses and Lakshmi Pujan at the end of the day. Said Deepak Shah, who works with a pharmacy, “I hope a day comes when our employers ask us to take a day off because it’s Diwali.”

 

FACTBOOK

When is Diwali in 2012? In India, people will celebrate Diwali 2012 on November 13 with great fervor and bursting firecrackers throughout the night. Diwali is one of the major religious festivals in Hinduism, lasting for five days from the 13th day of the dark half of the lunar month Ashvina to the second day of the light half of Karttika. (The corresponding dates in the Gregorian calendar usually fall in late October and November.) The name is derived from the Sanskrit term dipavali meaning “row of lights,” which are lit on the new-moon night to bid the presence of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. In Bengal, however, the goddess Kali is worshiped, and in north India the festival also celebrates the return of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, and Hanuman to the city of Ayodhya, where Rama’s rule of righteousness would commence.

During the festival, small earthenware lamps filled with oil are lighted and placed in rows along the parapets of temples and houses and set adrift on rivers and streams. The fourth day—the main Diwali festival day and the beginning of the lunar month of Karttika—marks the beginning of the new year according to the Vikrama calendar. Merchants perform religious ceremonies and open new account books. It is generally a time for visiting, exchanging gifts, cleaning and decorating houses, feasting, setting off fireworks displays, and wearing new clothes. Gambling is encouraged during this season as a way of ensuring good luck for the coming year and in remembrance of the games of dice played by the Lord Shiva and Parvati on Mount Kailasa or similar contests between Radha and Krishna. Ritually, in honour of Lakshmi, the female player always wins.

Five days of celebrations include:

DAY 1 – Dhun Teras

‘Dhun’ means wealth. In their homes, people literally wash coins in milk and water and worship Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.

DAY 2 – Kali Chaudas
People offer Nived (food) to the goddess that is local to where they are originally from. This goddess is called their ‘Kul Devi’, in order to cast off evil spirits.

DAY 3 – Diwali
Diwali is the last day of the Hindu year and thus also the end of the Hindu financial year. Many businessmen close their account books and do rituals to open their new account books for the next financial year, in order to gain prosperity in the next financial year.

DAY 4 – New Year’s Day
The new cycle of days now starts with Bestu Varush or New Year’s Day. Everybody greets each other with good wishes and a happy new year, ‘Saal Mubarak’.

DAY 5 – Bhai Duuj

Sisters call their brothers and his family to their homes for a meal. Brothers normally take a gift or leave money under their plates when they have finished their meal.

 

Pakistani and Indian forces exchange sweets at the border

Indian and Pakistani border guards exchanged sweets at the Attari- Wagah border post to mark the Hindu Diwali festival, according to media reports on Wednesday. Indian Border Security Force BSF officials presented sweets to their counterparts , the Sutlej Rangers at the zero line of border post, about 30km from here. Pakistanis returned the favour, presenting their Indian counterparts with sweets as well. The border post, the only official land route between India & Pakistan in Punjab sector, is otherwise popular for daily morning and evening flag hoisting and retreating ceremonies staged by BSF and Sutlej Rangers guards.

 

Diwali events:

Name: Diwali Dhamaka 2012
Date: Saturday, November 10th, 2012
Venue: Sagan Banquet Hall, 7180 Edwards Blvd., Mississauga, Ontario, L5S 1Z1
Hosted by: KC Group
Website : www.kcgrouponline.com

Name: Diwali Celebrations & Govardhan Puja
Date: Wednesday, November 14th, 2012
Venue: Unit 19, 20, 21, 1030 Kamato Road, Mississauga, Ontario, L4W 4B6
Hosted by: ISKCON Brampton
Website: www.iskconbrampton.ca
Website: iskconbrampton.blogspot.ca

Name: Diwali Celebration

Date: Saturday, November 17, 2012

Time: 3 pm to 7 pm

Venue: Hindu Sabha, 9225 The Gore Road, Brampton, Ontario L6P 0B6

Website: www.hindusabha.com

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