To Our Harrison Family,
For me, it’s always interesting to learn about the traditions and holidays of different cultures, I hope you feel the same way. I find it heartwarming that regardless of where in the world we are from or the differences of our religious beliefs, the commonality in our “festivities” is family.
Today we hear from our neighbor, Palak Arora, who tells us about Diwali, the Festival of Lights, celebrated by Indians worldwide.
Diwali, the festival of lights, is celebrated by Indians across the world. Celebrated over 5 days, Diwali symbolizes the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. Dating back to one of the main stories in Hindu mythology, Diwali is the day Lord Rama, his wife Sita Devi, and brother Lakshmana return to their homeland after 14 years in exile. People celebrated their return with great enthusiasm by lighting rows of diyas (decorative tea lights).
During Diwali, people decorate their homes with lights, diyas, flowers, and rangoli (an art form in which patterns are created on the floor using colored powder and candles). They pray for health, wealth, and prosperity. People visit with relatives and friends, bringing platters of sweets and other foods. The lighting of fireworks adds to the festivities. It is interpreted as a way to ward off all evil spirits, as well as a symbolic farewell to the departed ancestral souls.
For our family of four, we celebrate our own variation of what we have learned of Diwali over the years, adding new traditions along the way. We light diyas, read the story of Diwali together, participate in traditional rituals (such as Dhanteras puja– rituals believed to bring good fortune), and create some rangoli. We end the five days with gathering with family for a traditional Indian dinner and fireworks to end the night!
Harrison Township Resident
Thank you, Palak, for sharing the customs of Diwali with your Harrison family. And thanks to our IDEA Board (Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Advisory Board) for helping to coordinate it.
Together for Harrison Township,