Diwali is the most famous and important festival celebrated by the Hindu community. It is widely celebrated throughout India among many religions. Diwali is also known as “the festival of lights” because it marks the victory of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. It is celebrated over a 5-day period, all holding different importance, and falls between October and November. The main festival night of Diwali, however, is celebrated on the darkest night, that is, the new moon night of the month of Kartik, according to the Hindu calendar.
But do you know why Diwali is celebrated?
Legend has it that Lord Ram came back to Ayodhya (his home) after a 14-year long exile and victory over Ravan. His victory also signifies the victory of good over evil and light over darkness. The night on which he came back was a new moon night and to welcome him, all the inhabitants of Ayodhya lit diyas. Also, it is believed that Goddess Lakshmi was very impressed by the twinkling light of the diyas and so, she arrived at all the houses where diyas were lit.
Even today, Diwali is celebrated in similar way. People exchange gifts and sweets, wear new clothes, worship Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha, clean their houses and surroundings and burn crackers. There are many ways to celebrate Diwali. So find out what you can do this year to make Diwali special.
- Celebrate the first day – Dhanteras
Start with the first day – Dhanteras. This day is associated with wealth and prosperity. “Dhan” means “wealth” and “teras” means “thirteenth day”. Lord Kubera, the lord of wealth, and Goddess Lakshmi are worshipped on this day.
According to customs, a purchase of metals should be made. Go shopping and buy ornaments or utensils. It is considered auspicious to bring at least one new metal item into the house as it brings good luck. The best places in Delhi to go shopping for Dhanteras are Chandni Chowk, Paharganj Jewelery Market and Delhi Sadar Bazaar. Buy some new stuff and bring Goddess Lakshmi home.
- Clean and decorate your house
The second day is commonly known as “Chhoti Diwali”. On this day, preparations for Diwali are brought into action. Clean your house, make some changes and buy new stuff to decorate it. Diwali banners, flowers and garlands are used to decorate the house. Hang some banners on the entrance saying “Shubh Deepawali” and decorate it with flowers. You can also commence white-wash in your house to give it a make-over.
The major purpose of cleaning and decorating the house is to impress Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, so that she arrives at your house and brings prosperity and wealth. So if you want to renovate your house, this is just the right time. It will make your Diwali special this year.
- Donate something this Diwali
Spending lots of money on new clothes and furnishings this Diwali? Good. Now put your old stuff to some use. You must be wondering what to do with the box of old clothes you don’t wear anymore. The old toys of your siblings or your children are just lying packed in a carton because they don’t play with them anymore. So why not donate all that stuff? You’ll be surprised by the amount of satisfaction and happiness you will receive by giving away that stuff to someone who needs it. Give it away in an orphanage or distribute it among the poor children near temples or on the streets along with sweets and some crackers. This will make Diwali special for the poor children too. Give as much as you can and you’ll be the happiest.
- Add meaning to this Diwali
Diwali is often called the “overly noisy” festival because of the excessive burning of crackers. By putting fire to all the noisy, polluting crackers, we are only degrading the meaning of Diwali. It has become more of a festival of pollution than of lights. It is not necessary to express happiness by putting our money on fire and polluting the environment. According to statistics, the pollution level in the air spikes to up to 20 times after Diwali eve. The air quality is so bad that it takes several days for it to get back to normal. For our momentary pleasure, the environment has to suffer for days.
So, to express happiness, plant saplings this Diwali instead of burning crackers. Nurture the saplings for a year until they are grown. This will be beneficial for the environment as well as you. The happiness received by seeing your sapling grow is greater than the feeling of burning crackers.
Call up an old friend or a relative you haven’t talked to in a while now. A forwarded Diwali message or an email won’t do. No GIFs or e-greetings can compare to a phone call that will take them by surprise. Call an old teacher and to wish and thank them. Alternatively, meet up with them or send them a gift to make up for the lost time. They’ll feel very special instead of feeling neglected and forgotten. And when you make someone close to you happy, it is bound to make you happy as well.
- Give some time to your elders
We don’t have time to spend with our family these days. The extremely busy schedule (and our cell phones) makes it hard to enjoy with the elders and younger ones of our family. Dedicate this Diwali to your grandparents. Spend some time with them, talk to them, take selfies with them and bring gifts and sugar-free sweets so that they feel special and taken care of. Listen to their stories and tell them yours. You might realize that they are the most understanding members of your family. You have no idea how special it will make them feel.
- Make Rangoli
Due to lack of time, often we people don’t bother to make a rangoli at the entrance of our house. Ready-made stickers are often just enough to fulfill the formality. But take time this Diwali to put in some extra efforts. Call the children in your house and design a rangoli with them. Make it bright and colourful. It will give a lot of enjoyment to the children as well as yourself. The children will be thrilled with this new “art”. Tell them stories on why rangoli is made. Rangoli is a symbol of happiness to welcome Lord Ram. Also, it impresses Goddess Lakshmi as she is attracted to bright and clean houses. She blesses you with wealth and prosperity.
These stories and the fun activity will make the children learn a lot of valuable lessons and will make their Diwali special.
- Buy candles and diyas from a blind association
Many people are unaware, but the blind associations organize Diwali fares where they sell candles, diyas and other decorative things. All these things are hand-made, very unique and are sold at a very reasonable price. You’ll be fascinated by all the things they make with their own hands. Buying things from them makes them very happy and motivates them. Pay a visit this season and shop from these fares instead of malls. It’ll give you utter contentment and will brighten the Diwali of the blind association members also.
- Spread happiness at the table
Take responsibility to cook this Diwali and relieve your mother. Cook something new that everyone enjoys. If you’re good with Italian, prepare pasta and pizza in Indian style to please everyone. Add spices and garnish with coriander leaves and paneer (cottage cheese) to give it an Indian touch. How hard can it be with internet on your tips? Your family will be happy with a change in cuisine on the day of Diwali and will compliment your cooking skills. Feel on cloud 9 with all the praise.
- Be thankful
Be thankful for all that you have. Be thankful for your parents for everything that they’ve been doing for you, your siblings for keeping up with you, your teachers for making you capable and your friends for being there for you. Show them your gratitude in one way or another. Send them greeting cards (hand-made would be so much better if you can make some) and express your feelings in written words if you can’t say them out lout. It will make them very happy to know that they mean so much to you.
Don’t just celebrate a festival for the sake of it, but add meaning to it. There are certain things that can only be acted upon instead of being spoken. Ideally, one should not wait to make any good changes, but if you have to start sometime, start on this Diwali. Make it perfect for others as well as yourself.