While many in the US and elsewhere prepare for the European/Celtic origin base celebrations of All Hallow’s Eve (Halloween), the Day of the Dead, or Samhain (pagan celebration for the end of the harvest), in India and elsewhere Hindu cultures (and in some places Buddhists join in) will be celebrating Diwali, or Dipawali, whose name comes from the row (avali) of clay lamps (deepa) lit outside homes during the festival to symbolize the Divine light and inner light that protects us from demons, or spiritual darkness. In Nepal Diwali is called Tihar.
This year Diwali begins on October 25, the primary day of celebration is October 27. It is a holiday of great celebration, of cleaning houses, throwing out old and broken items, visiting friends and relatives with food and gifts, lighting lamps, fireworks….truly a life affirming celebration!
Often called the Festival of Lights, Diwali is a five day celebration, each day having specific events and celebrations according to stories of good triumphing over evil, stories found in the ancient Sanskrit writings. In Nepal, each of the five days honors a different animal. Many of the stories celebrated during Diwali come from the epic tales of Rama or Krishna, Divine beings whose life trials of overcoming evil forces and demons through their moral courage and spiritual attunement, as well as their kindness to others, have been guidelines for living a moral and spiritual life for eons. Which tales are celebrated on which days varies from region to region in India. Diwali is a complex holiday! Below are a few links to read more about it.
I’ve always been drawn to this celebration of light, of overcoming demons, of good winning over evil, which is combined with gratefulness for the harvest. It is a uplifting national holiday in India and Nepal and among Hindus everywhere. As the days become shorter and darker, and as my life at this time is full of unknowns, I struggle with my own dark thoughts and demons and want to embrace the joyousness of this celebration of the Divine Light in life and in each of us!
Happy Diwali! Let there be Light, inner and outer!
Here are some links to past posts celebrating this time of year: