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Friday November 5th, 2010

Posted at 12:07pm

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Celebrating Diwali with diyas, sweets and pujas

Is there anything more beautiful than a holiday that celebrates light? As a photographer I cherish the light as it is my medium of conversation, as a human being I cherish the light as being part of who we are and what are we constantly surrounded with.

Today is Diwali, popularly known as the Festival of Lights.  There is a festive mood everywhere and if you cannot travel to India, find some Hindu friends who you can celebrate with. I work with people who observe this holiday; I have friends and neighbours who decorated their homes with scented candles and beautiful lights. I am not Hindu, but I wish I was just to be able to share this wonderful feeling of being surrounded by the holiness of light.

Diwali honors Rama-chandra, the seventh avatar (incarnation of the god Vishnu). It is believed that on this day Rama returned to his people after 14 years of exile during which he fought and won a battle against the demons and the demon king, Ravana. People lit their houses to celebrate his victory over evil (light over darkness).

The goddess of happiness and good fortune, Lakshmi, also figures into the celebration. It is believed that she roams the earth on this day and enters the house that is pure, clean, and bright. Diwali celebrations may vary in different communities but its significance and spiritual meaning is generally “the awareness of the inner light”.

Lamps, fireworks and bonfires illuminate this holiday, as the word “Deepawali” means “a row or cluster of lights” or “rows of diyas (clay lamps)”. The festival symbolizes the victory of righteousness and the lifting of spiritual darkness. The goddess Lakshmi, who symbolizes wealth, happiness and prosperity, is also worshipped during Diwali.

Diwali is a festival not just for lights, lamps and firecrackers, but for some mouth-watering delights as well.  Each region of India has its own traditional variety of sweets and cuisines made specifically for this festival. Traditional sweets, spicy and full of flavour like: Mysore Pak, Kesari, Rava Ladoo, Pongal, Payasam, Badhusa, Ladoos, Jalebi, Kheer, Kaju barfi, Halwa etc are meant to be shared with friends; tiny, deliciously wrapped up, Christmas-like  presents.

So, go ahead, check out your neighbourhood ethnic store, enjoy the treats and the spirit of the holidays…

Happy Diwali everyone and may the light be with you!

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