Diwali is known around the world as the festival of lights because of how impressive andimportant this holiday is to the Hinduism religion. Diwali is also well known around the worldand beyond the religions of Hinduism by many people because of how important this holiday isto the religion and the importance of celebration.
This holiday is so important that sometimes itis a comparison of importance for the Christians as to Christmas. It is rare for a person to havenever heard about Diwali before, even if they have little knowledge. This is an empoweringholiday that is meaningful for Hindus and that is why it is important to gain knowledge about it.So how did this holiday become so important and how did this spread into such ameaningful act for Hindus around the world? It all started in India in about 200,000 BCE,meaning this tradition has been going on for a long time. Diwali was originally celebrated to be aharvest festival creating emphasis to be the last harvest of the year before the cold winter camein.
This is the main concept believed by most people but there are legends of other ways thatDiwali was created. It is also popularly known as when the God, Rama, comes home to hiskingdom of Ayodhya after exile. By celebrating Lord Rama’s return, it brings out, “an expressionof gratitude to the Lord” (Venkatesh, 141). This holiday here is expressed as an important returnof the Lord and to keep the Lord holy during the 5 days. It is important for the Hindus to worshipRama and celebrate his coming back. As that is some legend of the origins, it might dependwhich area of the world you ask about Diwali.
Some might say it was a honoring to the marriageof Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu while others might say it is the birthday of Lakshmi. If one travelsto Bengal, the origins of Diwali are devoted to Mother Kali. If you travel to the people whopractice Jainism, they might say that the origins of Diwali came from Lord Mahavira attainingnirvana.Whether one sect of Hinduism believes one concept and another sect believes another, itis always an important holiday no matter what way it is celebrated. It was celebrated in the pastby lighting up their kingdom with oil lamps and other forms of light to create the “festival oflights” known as Diwali.
Throughout all time, this tradition has managed to stay intact bylighting up to demonstrate the celebration of light, the turning away from evil and joining thegood, and the enjoyment of life. This is now the same tradition in present day as, “the Hinducelebrators light a row of clay lamps outside their house for the five days period of this festival.These clay lamps symbolize the inner light to protect the Hindu’s from spiritual darkness” (Law).
The traditions from the past still follow up to what people do today. Diwali is all about turningaway from evil and welcoming in the good with celebration. It is important to keep thingsburning or lit during these five days in order to keep light in their life and mind and turn awayfrom the darkness in life. This is a joyous period for celebrators to overcome evil and overjoywith good-coming.This holiday is significant to Hindus as it is a big time to keep everything illuminated totry and achieve happiness, peace, love and goodness in the world.
It is also a time to reflect onlife for their new upcoming year as Diwali normally occurs in early November. It proves to besignificant as it is a time for Hindus to illuminate aspects of their life and who they are as aperson. It is a big time for Hindus to reflect and to hope for great things in the future. As this isone of the biggest holidays for Hinduism, it is taken seriously to use the five days to representtheir significance.The significance of Diwali to all Hindus is very large but the way it is celebrated is notalways the same. Although everyone comes from the same roots, there are many branches thattake sects of Hinduism in different directions. Celebration is different depending on what aperson might be doing in their life at the moment.
With something like social strata, some Hindusmay have benefits over other Hindus. Many families will celebrate in their own way by lightingcandles and preforming ceremonies with their families. People who may be wealthier may havethe luxury of being able to have bigger ceremonies, be with more people, have nicer attire, andfeel as if their way of celebration might be rewarded in a better way. Wealth and hierarchy wasmore important back then but now with social strata, the lower and higher income seem to cometogether for new ways of the future. In fact there are adjustments made that, “organizes events incollaboration with the city councils…other events are sometimes held at some smaller centres,some specifically for the local Indian community, and others providing a multiculturalcelebration for the wider local community” (Johnson, 79). Although it may seem that the wealthymight have it better for the holidays pertaining to social strata, that is not always the case whenthese communities come together to create public events fit for everyone. It seems many placesare very open to the public and create large events for everyone to attend no matter the level ofwealth someone is.
Social strata seems to not affect celebration as much but celebration seems to be moredifferent across the mindset of gender. In the rituals of Diwali, women are expected to put up thecandles and help make the home neat and clean. The women are responsible for a lot of the workfor this holiday while the males are not be as much. The women will draw something calledRangolis at the door and will create footprints of rice on the floor to await the appearance ofLakshmi. The women will provide service in their house for preparation for the joyous 5 days.The holiday is celebrated the same for both genders but the women must put in more effort toprepare for the upcoming events.Celebration is different for the people in different age groups in many ways which keepsthis holiday very entertaining to keep up with. New born babies receive many gifts and toys andthe parents seek to the Gods to bless their child.
For kids and children, they tend to receive manysweets and candy while adolescents may focus some of their time on shopping for a new fashion.For young married couples, the man will be invited to the woman’s parents house and the parentswill give the groom generous gifts. While as for grandparents, they will tell the legends andstories to the people around them. Each age group has a different significance on the holiday andeveryone has something to bring to the table.Diwali is a very well conducted holiday that captures the essence of some of Smart’s sixdimensions. The first dimension that Diwali captures is the experiential dimension which isknown as having contact with a transcendent realm and how traditions define experiences as afoundation of their community. This is shown in Diwali because Diwali is based on the legendthat Rama came home to his kingdom and this is now one of the main concepts of Hinduism forthis holiday. It is now a major tradition that people celebrate annually.
People will open theirwindows in this holiday to try and let the good spirits and God into their house; thus known ascontacting a transcendent realm. People will as well try and contact or pray to their God inpreaching manners to thus contact the spirits.Another one of Smarts dimensions that is found in Diwali is the ritual dimension becausethis dimension is known as the actions and ceremonies that people preform for their religiousfunction. People will worship Gods, use prayers or have rituals for this dimension. This is seen inDiwali as the main aspect of this holiday is a tradition itself; celebrators will light candles intradition and ritual of letting light into their life. Hindus have many celebrations for this holidaythat keep the traditions going on.
Having the celebration go on for 5 days is a tradition thatHindus adhere by. Hindus will spend much of their time worshipping and praying to their Godduring this time which creates for a very special religious experience in Smarts ritual dimension.Being religious is a very important part of this holiday because that is where the origins ofDiwali comes from and this leads into the last of Smarts dimensions; the social dimension. Thesocial dimension is known as a community of believers and coming together as a whole. It isimportant for Diwali to be a social event. Diwali is celebrated with family and a grand amount ofpeople.
It is about coming together with others and sharing the experience. This is a veryimportant thing for being social in the religious community. There will be large social events,parties and rituals for everyone to come to and enjoy on these 5 days of Diwali.
It is a time foreveryone to come together and celebrate the meaning of this holiday.Diwali proves to be an important holiday for Hindus. It shows the creation of light toward away evil sprits and shows how to let the good into ones life. It comes from many origins,all of which hold the same amount of importance for Diwali.
Diwali is celebrated in many waysby many different people and has the aspects of Smart’s six dimensions, specifically,experiential, ritual, and social dimensions. Diwali will continue to be a very important holiday tobe known world wide.