Exactly 12 years ago I took this picture in Udaipur, India during Diwali. Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights, coinciding with the Hindu new year. It is dedicated to the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. Walking around Udaipur on this day, it was amazing to see how the whole city was decorated with lights! It made Udaipur look even more whimsical than it already did. The colorful crowd was buzzing and I loved the chaos of it all!
Being a tourist, I had no idea what the festival was all about. But I was eager to learn more!
Diwali is a major Hindu festival stretched over 5 national holidays. Some people also call it the festival of lights and it is not hard to see why. Everywhere you go you will see lights, or Deepa’s. They represent the spiritual light that comes from darkness. The 5 festival days all have their specific meaning and rituals:
Dhanteras is the First day of Diwali. It marks the beginning of the festival and it celebrates wealth. On this day people clean their houses thoroughly to prepare for the days to come. People decorate their houses with lights and colorful displays. Kind of like Christmas!
Day two of Diwali is called Choti Diwali (Little Diwali if my Hindi serves me right) This is the day before the main festival. People take a long bath in the morning and dress themselves in brand new clothes. When you walk the streets on this day you will see people painting the floors around their houses in festive patterns and colors. They also decorate the house with even more lights. You will hear the sound of firecrackers everywhere. Hindu’s believe they keep out evil spirits and demons.
The third day of Diwali is the center of the festival. This day is called the Lakshmi Puja, and it is filled with lights and sweets. If you happen to be in India on this day, prepare to eat a LOT of candy! Everywhere you go people will offer you candies. As suggested by the name: The most important thing to do on this day is to worship the goddess Lakshmi, who will bring you wealth and prosperity in return. At the end of the day, there will be fireworks everywhere! I was lucky enough to see it from the edge of the lake overlooking the city and I can tell you… it was magical!
The fourth day is called Padwa Goverdhan Puja and this is the day for family meals. Friends and families come together on this day to wish eachother a happy new year. It is custom to bring gifts! Oh and there is food of course… Lots of food!
On the final day of Diwali, Bhai Dooj, everything evolves around siblings. According to the Hindu bible, Narakasura was a banished demon. His sister blessed him by offering him food and placing a holy protective spot on his forehead. So on the last day of Diwali, brothers and sisters give each other presents and share meals together, and try not to fight for atleast a day.
Did you think Christmas is a big celebration? You can trust me on this one. Christmas is nothing compared to Diwali!
I’m burning a candle in my front yard, even though I’m not Hindu. It’s a beautiful festival and I wish everyone a HAPPY DIWALI!