Diwali – The Festival of Lamps
Deepavali (Diwali or Divali) is India’s best-known festival. It is a day of Hindu solidarity, when all Hindus gather in love and trust. It is observed by lighting rows of oil lamps and exchanging greeting cards, clothing and other gifts. Family bonds are strengthened and forgiveness sought. For many, Diwali marks the beginning of the new year. Joyous festivities and parties abound.
In Hindu culture, light is a powerful metaphor for knowledge and consciousness. It is a reminder of the preciousness of education, self-inquiry and improvement, which bring harmony to the individual, the community and between communities. By honoring light, we affirm the fact that from knowing arises respect for and acceptance of others. Lighting lamps reminds Hindus to keep on the right path, to dispel darkness from their hearts and minds, and to embrace knowledge and goodness.
What do Hindus do for Diwali?
Diwali (or Deepavali, “row of lights”) is celebrated by Hindus worldwide to commemorate the triumph of good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, hope over despair. Oil-wick lamps are lit in every household, along with colorful strings of electric lights, causing the home, village and community to sparkle with dancing fl ames. The festival falls on the day before the new moon in the month of Ashwin (October/ November). Communities spare nothing in celebration. Lavish spreads of sweets and treats reflect unfettered partying.
Diwali lehyam—a potent concoction made with ginger, pepper, ghee and more—is provided to help gourmands digest the sumptuous feast. Families reach out to each other with gifts of sweets, dried fruit and crunchy, salty treats. Everyone wears colorful new clothing and many even new jewelry. Girls and women decorate their hands with henna designs.
Wikipedia has a lovely explanation of Diwali.
While Diwali is popularly known as the “festival of lights”, the most significant spiritual meaning is “the awareness of the inner light”.
Central to Hindu philosophy is the assertion that there is something beyond the physical body and mind which is pure, infinite, and eternal, called the Atman. Just as we celebrate the birth of our physical being, Diwali is the celebration of this inner light, in particular the knowing of which outshines all darkness (removes all obstacles and dispels all ignorance), awakening the individual to one’s true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality. With the realization of the Atman comes universal compassion, love, and the awareness of the oneness of all things (higher knowledge). This brings Ananda (inner joy or peace).
The gunas are the underlying forces or tendencies which one needs to have unaffected, direct relation with in order to find effectiveness and righteousness in life: they are lines of potential and illuminate thought and action, thus the inner meaning of Diwali being the festival of lights.
Diwali celebrates this through festive fireworks, lights, flowers, sharing of sweets, and worship. While the story behind Diwali varies from region to region, the essence is the same – to rejoice in the inner light (Atman) or the underlying reality of all things (Brahman).
It is certainly a joyous time of family, friends, food and firecracker mayhem. Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami says:
“My guru, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, was very fond of Deepavali, and he referred to the festival of lights as “Hindu Solidarity Day” as it is a day celebrated by all the four denominations of Hinduism, Vaishnavism, Saivism, Shaktism and Smartism.
Deepavali is a celebration of the inner light within all of us, and on this day we honor the light within each other by giving new clothes, sharing sweets and snacks, cleaning the house, lighting oil lamps and bursting firecrackers.
Many business communities start their financial year on Diwali and new account books are opened on this day.”
US President Barack Obama also acknowledged Diwali, the first time for a US president:
- Read more about Diwali as well as cook a wonderful Carrot Halwa here (a downloadable 1 page pdf that can also be used as a media release.)
- What is Diwali
- Diwali in Tamil Nadu
- Diwali in Bangalore (with a recipe for Chakli)
- What is eaten for Diwali?
- Why are lamps used in Diwali? and more on lamps here.
- Diwali, 2011
What foods are offered?
Anything sweet plays an important role during Diwali. Also snacks are favourites.
Check out our Diwali recipes here.
Food for Diwali from around the Web
- Diwali Sweets, a list
- Diwali Sweets and Snacks!
- Bengali Rice Kheer
- Phool Makhana Kheer (Lotus Seed Kheer)
- 7 Cup Burfi
- Ariselu ~ Athirasallu
- Coconut Barfi
- Apple Jilebi – Deep Fried Sour Batter Soaked In Sugar Syrup
- Pista Poorie – Flattened And Fried Pistachio Dough In Sugar Syrup
- Godumai Maavu Adhirasam – Wheat Flour And Jaggery Doughnuts
- Mysore Pak
- Coconut Burfi
- Kaju Katli/ Kaju Burfi
- Kaju Pista Roll
- Seven Cup Burfi
- Rawa Badam Burfi
- Rawa Laddu
- Badam Katli | How to make Badam Katli in Microwave
- Sticky Diwali Crumble
- Kaju Katli – Cashew nut Burfi
- Besan Ki Burfi | How to make Besan Ki Barfi in Microwave
- Kaju Katli / Cashew Burfi
- Kaju Badam Katli
- Mohan Thal
- Besan Ladoo
- Boondi Ladoo / Diwali Classic Sweet
- Potato Fudge
- Mawa Gujiya
- Baklava Rolls
- Butter Badushah
- Besan Para
- Microwave Besan Laddoo
- Cholafali Recipe ~ Gujarati Farsan Diwali Special
- Chickpea Flour Fudge with Palm Sugar
- Chum Chum Recipe | How to make Cham Cham
- Quick rosogollar payesh for diwali
- Shakkar Para
- Masala Peanuts
- Kaja ~ Andhra sweet
- Kajjikayalu ~ Karjikayalu
- Kakinada Kaja
- Kaju Katli
- Kessari Phirni (Saffron Flavoured Creamy Rice)
- Lavang Latika
- Mixed Dal Muruku
- Kesar Badam Burfi/Halwa(Saffron Almond Fudge)
- Pineapple Kesari Bhat | Suji ka Halwa
- Badam Halwa
- Cornflour Halwa
- Milk Halwa
- Kesam Malai Pista Kulfi
- Omapodi / Sev
- Pappulu Kajjikayalu ~ Pappulu Karjikayalu
- Rava Laddoo and here
- Rice Flour Laddu – Diwali Special
- Rava Laddu
- Beautiful Laddu
- Pandhari Laddoo – A Sweet Prepared With Flour, Milk Solids And Sugar
- Besan Laddu
- Besan Ladoo with Pumpkin Spice & Other Diwali Sweets
- Boondi Laddu
- Malai Laddu
- Rice Flour Laddos
- Sunflower Seed Laddu
- Vermicilli Laddu
- Salt Diamonds
- Vella Cheedai
- South Indian Chivda / Mixture
- Cornflakes Chivda
- Thenkuzhal Muruku and here
- Murukku | Thenkuzhal
- Thenkuzhal & Mullu Murukku
- Mysore Pak | How to make Mysore Pak with Step by Step pictures
- Mysore Pak
- Badusha ~ How to make Badhusha
- Ghas Mando
- Moong Dal Laddu | How to make Pesara Pappu Ladoo | Diwali Sweets
- Seepu Muruku
- Paal Vadai
- Homemade Oma Podi /Sev
- Kara Sev
- Pesara Karapusa | Moong Dal Ompodi / Sev
- Murukku | Thenkuzhal
- Thattai Recipe
- Home made Oma Podi / Sev
- Ribbon Pakoda
- Mini Katori Chaat Snacks
- Nei karaboondhi
- Mung Dal Chakli
- Cardamom White Chocolate Mud Cake Pops For Diwali
- Diwali Food
- A compendium of Diwali food
- Diwali Sweets and Snacks
- 100 Diwali Sweets (PDF download)
- A million (almost! :)) Diwali Recipes | Deepavali Recipes – Sweets and Savories
Pics via google images.