There are festivals and celebrations and then there’s Diwali. Diwali is an official public holiday not only in India but also in Mauritius, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Myanmar, Surina and Fiji.
If we look at it, Diwali is the best time to witness diversity in India. Diwali does brighten up people’s moods, businesses and the whole atmosphere in the country. It is celebrated with many different names like Lakshmi Pooja in the north, Kali Pooja in the east Deepavali or Deepa-Oli (meaning the light from the lamp) in the south.
Having been born into a family that follows two traditions, Diwali is the most awaited time of the year for me. This is the grandest festivals celebrated at home. On one end the younger family members unite and have a gala time, on the other hand, the older members of the family exchange pleasantries and make the moment more lively. While my Father is a North Indian and my mother is from the south, I get to treat myself with 12 different variety of sweets! What’s even better? They’re all home-made!
The story of Diwali traces back to times immemorial where the central element of the festival is celebrating the victory of good over evil. The festival marks the return of Lord Ram to rule his empire which is till date looked at as an example of able governance.
More so to say, Diwali at home is a five-day affair.
Day 1: Known as Dhanteras, Marks the beginning of Diwali festivities. This is primarily a celebration of business and wealth. People renovate their houses and business premises and decorate them with lamps, lights and much more.
Day 2: Known as Choti-Diwali, the day before the factual Diwali. This is a great excuse to go shopping as people put on new clothes on this occasion, light candles and start fireworks to ward off festive demons
Day 3: The Lakshmi Pooja Day, the day filled with food and fun. Members of the family gather to worship Goddess Lakshmi for wealth, good luck and prosperity.
Day 4: This involves inviting the extended family home for celebrations, this is called Govardhan Pooja.
Day 5: The final night of Diwali is celebrating sibling love. Brothers and sisters exchange gifts and pleasantries. This evening is called Bhai Duj.
Owing to the nature of my father’s work, my family travelled a lot and I am lucky enough to witness a few different ways in which the festival is celebrated and be a part of a rich and varied Indian tradition.
The Holy Ganges:
People light Dias- or ‘earthen lamps’ as it gets darker and let it float in the river. The view is splendid. It feels as if the stars have fallen on earth. Continuous fireworks follow this. This has been a tradition for ages.
The Golden Temple:
The Sikhs also celebrate Bandi Chhor Diwas on this day. This marks the celebration of the return of their 6thguru- Guru Hargobind Ji from the Mughal captive. The golden temple is soaked in lights, the lamps float in the Sarovar, creating a spiritual ambience.
Deepavali as it is celebrated in the south
Down south is the place where fireworks are made to be supplied all over the country for the festival. This festival is celebrated to mark the killing of a demon by Lord Krishna. Effigies of the demon are made and burnt signifying the triumph of good over evil. Also, people exchange gifts and sweets while firework display happens throughout the day.
The Kali Pooja
The dates of Kali (The goddess of power) Pooja and Lakshmi (The goddess of wealth) Pooja collide with Diwali and Bengal crosses to offer prayers to its beloved goddess Kali. A day prior to the Pooja, the city is lit up in the festive spirits.
The Filmy way
Over the years trends have been changing and people have been getting used to those. As Diwali approaches, it also marks the release of big-budget films with prominent stars playing lead roles in them. People also enjoy watching movies in cinemas as part of family reunions in addition to kids indulging in fun activities like bursting crackers and getting dressed to the occasion.
As already mentioned, this festival marks complementing one another. Let’s put aside indifferences and unite to celebrate the grandest of Indian festivals. Wishing you all a Happy Diwali.
Middlesex Students Union also presents, in collaboration with the Bollywood & Indian Societies presents MDXSU Diwali Night.
This is an event of two parts -
7pm - 9:30pm Carnival
Including stalls, henna, a fashion show, and traditional Diwali celebrations
10pm - 2am Club Night
Dance the night away at our Diwali club night!
Tickets for the Carnival are £2 advance or £3 on the door
Tickets for the Club Night are £3 advance or £5 on the door
Want to attend both? Bundle tickets giving you access to the Carnival and Club Night are £4 advance or £7 on the door!