All you need to know about the Hindu festival which features fireworks, feasts and gifts.
DIWALI is just a few weeks away, with the five-day celebration set to be enjoyed by millions around the world.
The festival of light sees Hindu homes decorated with candles and lights and people shari
- How is Diwali celebrated and why does the date change?
Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is the Hindu Festival of Lights and is celebrated every year as the spiritual “victory of light over darkness”.
The date of the festival is calculated according to the position of the moon and the Hindu lunar calendar and is usually in October or November.
In 2018, Diwali will be celebrated on Wednesday, November 7 – and the festivities will last five days
Diwali is observed by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains around the world and is often marked by street parties, fireworks, new clothes and of course, delicious food.
Traditional earthen diyas or candles are lit, and houses are decorated with colourful rangoli artworks – patterns created on the floor using coloured rice or powder.
During the festival, families and friends share sweets and gifts and there is also a strong belief in giving to those in need.
It is also traditional for homes to be cleaned and new clothes to be worn.
Indian sweets which come in a range of colours and flavours are also eaten during the celebrations, as well as various rich savoury and sweet dishes.
- What do the different dates of Diwali mean?
DAY ONE: Dhanteras ‘Dhan’ means wealth – a this day is dedicated to celebrating prosperity. this day, images of goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune, are worshipped. Fortune not just mean wealth, it refers to general wellbeing and prosperity as well as money and material valuables. On this day, homes and businesses are thoroughly cleaned, and small oil lamps are dotted around the home to mark beginning of the festival.
DAY TWO: Naraka Chaturdasi or Chhoti Diwali Known as ‘small Diwali’, this day marks slaying of demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna, who then rescused 16,000 captive princesses. The day and its rituals are interpre as ways to liberate any souls from their sufferi in “Naraka”, or hell, as well as a reminder of spiritual auspiciousness. In parts of India, the is also called ‘Kali Chaudas’, and idols of the goddess Kali are worshipped.
DAY THREE: Diwali and Laksmi Puja The new moon day, and the darkest day of the month, i the most significant day of Diwali. This is the that all Hindu, Sikh and Jain temples are lit up with hundreds of candles and oil lamps – givin the day its name – the festival of lights. Firewo will also be lit to mark the highest point of celebrations. Diwali is also seen as the last da the Hindu year in many Indian regions, when businesses close their old accounts. Tradition it is believed that on this day, Lord Rama resc his wife from the demon Ravana following an epic battle. On his return home, his followers l up his path home so he could return in the da Today, the lighting of candles and lamps sho the triumph of good over evil.
DAY FOUR: Annakut This is the day of the Hin New Year, and sees temples piled high with fo offerings to the Lord Krishna during the Govardhan Puja – a symbolic reference to Govardhan Hill – it is believed that Lord Krishna lifted the hill to shelter villagers from flood caused by the vengeful Indra, King of Heaven. The day’s activities are designed to remind Hindus to be humble in the face of the Lord and Divine. This day also ritually celebrat the bond between the wife and husband. Othe interpretations of the day surround the Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva, Parvati and the masculine feminine energies they brought to the world.
DAY FIVE: Bhai Dooj The last day of the festiv is literally “Brothers Day”. It celebrates the bon between brothers and sisters, similar to Raksh Bandhan festival. However, on this day, it is th brother who travels to spend time with his sist and her family. Traditionally, Bhai Dooj was se as one of the few days when brothers could vi their married sisters’ homes, to ensure they w being well cared for.
- Why is Diwali celebrated by Hindus?
The five-day festival, which coincides with Hindu New Year, is seen to be one of the most significant in the Indian culture.
Many people celebrate the legend of Hindu God Rama and his wife Sita’s returning to their kingdom in northern India after being exiled following the defeat of demon king Ravanna.
The word itself means “series of lights” and during the festival houses and shops are decorated with candles and lights.
This is meant to represent light over darkness and the Hindu belief that good will always triumph over evil.For many Indians, Diwali honours Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and people will start the new business year at Diwali and some will say prayers to the goddess for a prosperous year ahead.
- What are the most popular foods eaten during Diwali?
Indian sweetmeats – known as mithai – take centre stage during the festivities.
They are nibbled throughout the day as a sweet snack, and are later served alongside a savoury dinner or snacks like samosas.
Barfi – or coconut fudge – is also a popular sweet treat during Diwali and is served in solid squares.
Other popular items served during the five day festival include:
Chirote – light and flaky dessert pastries stuffe with a sugary filling, deep fried, and usually served drizzled with syrup.
Karanji – small pastry pockets stuffed with po seeds, grated coconut, sugar, nuts and cardamom, they are crescent shaped and take lot of time to prepare, so are often reserved fo special occasions like Diwali.
Aloo Tikki – made with potatoes that are shredded and formed into small patties before being fried, they are served with mint sauce a tamarind chutney.
Laddoos – ball shaped sweets made with chickpea flour, wheat semolina and coconut. t are cooked with ghee, and are sometimes stuf with pistachios or almonds.
Kaju Katli – a sweet cut into diamond shapes decorated with edible silver leaf, it is made wit cream, sugar and ground cashews, which are made into a smooth paste and then cooked o flat tray or dish.
Gathiya – small and light brown sticks that loo like hardened spaghetti – they are in fact very l in density and are lightly spiced with black pe and carom seeds.
Sohan Papdi – Most commonly found in the northern states of India, sohan papdi is made with chickpea flour, sugar and milk, and has a flaky texture when eaten.
Dahi Bhalla – light fried dumplings with added green chillies and raisins, served smothered wi yogurt and tamarind chutney.
Mathiya – Light and crispy snacks flavoured wi chilli powder, these are common in Gujarat an are made by kneading a light dough with wate and ghee along with the chilli powder before frying, and are sometimes sprinkled with more chilli after cooking.