What is Di­wali?

The Miracle - - Front Page - By: Becky Pem­ber­ton www.th­e­sun.co.uk

All you need to know about the Hindu fes­ti­val which fea­tures fire­works, feasts and gifts THE fes­ti­val of light is nearly here, with the five-day cel­e­bra­tion ob­served by mil­lions around the globe. Di­wali will see homes be dec­o­rated with can­dles and lights and peo­ple shar­ing gifts - but when is it tak­ing place this year? When is Di­wali 2017? The date of the fes­ti­val is cal­cu­lated ac­cord­ing to the po­si­tion of the moon and the Hin- du lu­nar cal­en­dar and is usu­ally in Oc­to­ber or Novem­ber. This means the date of Di­wali changes each year and in 2017 the main date will be held on Thurs­day, Oc­to­ber 19. The night be­fore of Di­wali is known as Narak Chatur­dasi, and rep­re­sents the day in which the Hindu de­mon Narakaa­sura died. Cel­e­bra­tions con­tinue for five days and on the last day, Bhaiyadooj or Feast to broth­ers takes place. The day com­mem­o­rates the bond between sib­lings with meals be­ing hosted by sis­ters in hon­our of their broth­ers. Di­wali is ob­served by Hin­dus, Sikhs and Jains around the world and is of­ten cel­e­brated by street par­ties and fire­works. 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 is the fes­ti­val of light all about? Di­wali is marked by huge fire­work dis­plays, which are sup­posed to re­flect the cel­e­bra­tions of Lord Rama’s re­turn. 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.

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