Khushi is a graduate of EY Foundation's Smart Futures programme.
Diwali, or Deepavali, isn't merely a Festival of Lights.
For me, Diwali holds profound spiritual importance. It's a time for cleansing the soul and shedding off negativity, much like making New Year's resolutions. Diwali inspires us to kindle the light of positivity and extinguish the darkness within.
The sense of togetherness during Diwali is strong. Families come closer, old disagreements find resolutions and loved ones gather to pray, celebrate, and enjoy good food. It highlights the importance of family and the joy of being together.
The festival spans five days, each with its unique customs and traditions.
Day 1: Dhanteras: Diwali commences with Dhanteras, a day devoted to the celebration of wealth and prosperity. Many people clean their homes, buy new utensils and light lamps to welcome wealth and good fortune into their lives.
Day 2: Chhoti Diwali or Naraka Chaturdashi: marks the triumph of Lord Krishna over the demon Narakasura. People light fireworks and engage in social gatherings, emphasising the victory of good over evil.
Day 3: Diwali: The third day is the primary Diwali day when most of the festivities occur. Homes are illuminated with oil lamps (diyas), candles, and decorative lights. Families come together for a special puja (prayer) to worship deities like Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi.
Day 4: New Year's Day (Padwa): The Hindu New Year and is a day for family gatherings, prayers and seeking blessings. Lord Ganesha is worshipped for wisdom and new beginnings. Exchanges of gifts, display of colourful rangolis and delicious feasts enhance the spirit of renewal and positivity.
Day 5: Bhai Dooj: On this very special day sisters perform aarti for their brothers, symbolising their love and wishing for their well-being. Brothers, in return present gifts to their sisters, strengthening the cherished bond between siblings. This day is a testament to the strong sibling relationships and the essence of family bonds celebrated during Diwali.
Much like Christmas, home entrances are adorned with colorful rangoli patterns. These intricate designs are drawn at the entrance to welcome guests and create an inviting ambiance. It was my first time in making a rangoli when I was in class 7, (see below) done with coloured powders.
Diwali celebrations are incomplete without a sumptuous feast. Families prepare an array of sweets and savoury dishes like samosas, pakoras and the delightful Gulab jamun. These culinary delights are shared with neighbours and friends. This (picture below) was my first attempt at making jalebis, during COVID. Now, I won't claim that I turned into a gourmet chef overnight; the truth is, I've had a soft spot for cooking for a long time. My jalebis might not have won a beauty pageant, but let me tell you, they tasted absolutely divine. Even my personal judge, my mum – who's a wizard in the kitchen – gave them her seal of approval.
While Diwali holds immense significance in Hinduism, it's also celebrated by Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists for different reasons. Jains commemorate Lord Mahavira's attainment of nirvana. For Sikhs, Diwali marks the release of Guru Hargobind Ji from imprisonment. Buddhists remember Emperor Ashoka's embrace of Buddhism on this day.
Diwali transcends religious boundaries, uniting people of various faiths. This festival highlights the importance of harmony, the victory of good over evil, and the light that shines within us all. It's a time when communities come together, share meals, and celebrate life.
As we celebrate Diwali, it's a reminder that if you let God into your life, it will light up every corner of your existence. This festival beautifully exemplifies the idea that the triumph of light over darkness also represents the illumination of our inner selves. So, I hope that we can try to fill other people's lives with our lights.
Wishing you and your loved ones a dazzling and joy-filled Diwali!
दीपावली की हार्दिक शुभकामनाएं