Let’s ring in the festival of lights!6 min readReading Time: 4 minutes
It’s that time of the year when the streets are alive with colorful lights, diyas and candles; homes are renewed with decoration and warmth; and tastebuds rejoice in the presence of ladoo, barfi and other yummy desserts.
It is time for Diwali!
Diwali is celebrated across religions in India for different purposes. Hindus celebrate Diwali to mark the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya after a 14 year exile. Sikhs celebrate it as the day their sixth guru, Guru Hargobind Singh, was released from prison. For Jains, it commemorates the moment when Lord Mahavir, the founder of Jainism, attained eternal bliss (Moksha).
Owliver’s Obscure Observations:
At Kammruddin Shah’s Dargah in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan, Diwali is celebrated by Hindus and Muslims to honor a 250 year old story of a friendship between Sufi saint Kammruddin Shah and Hindu saint Chanchalnathji.
Diwali comes from the Sanskrit word Deepawali which means row of lights.
This light is not just the one that decorates and illuminates; this light is also the light of knowledge and goodness. In the times that we are living in, we need this light even more!
COVID-19 may have brought some changes to how we have celebrated our important days this year but that does not mean we cannot have fun!
Here are ways to make the festival of lights light up your day–
COVID-19 has hit India’s poor population really hard. Let’s celebrate this Diwali with them! A big part of Diwali is about gifting! How about this year you gift something to underprivileged people? Wear a mask, keep a sanitiser handy, go for a drive and distribute sweets or other edibles (or even clothes etc.) to people who need this support.
A big part of Diwali consists of cleaning up of houses. This is done to welcome good fortune and prosperity into homes. This year, while cleaning up this mess, let’s also clean up a little for the environment. Over consumption increases our carbon footprint (check out what that means, here) and harms the environment. Let’s also declutter our homes, and our minds to welcome good fortune for all.
Dress up your home
Even if you are not able to go out as much as you’d like, there are ways to make the indoors just as exciting. You can always decorate your home with lights, flowers and a rangoli. A rangoli is a design made out of holi colors, flowers or painted pulses on the floor of a home to welcome guests and even Gods and Goddesses on the day of Diwali! Also, it looks really pretty (watch this space to find a design idea on Friday). Diwali is all about spending time with the ones you love. Why not create something together that you can cherish, and click pictures around!
Cook something special
All that decorating would have left you hungry! How about you try your hands at making a yummy mithai at home. You could be the sous chef to your chef parents/sibling, or you could just lead the way. Find an easy recipe (follow Owliver for one coming up on Friday) and make your own Diwali dessert.
With all that is happening around us, it may not be possible to meet everyone we care for on the day of Diwali. But, we have the gift of technology! Video call your grandparents, your relatives, and your friends. Take them on a tour of your decorated home. You can even share some virtual mithai with them! I am sure the batch you have prepared is ready to eat by now!
Celebrate with the environment
You must have read how many states have banned the use of firecrackers. Well, that is because firecrackers emit toxic gases (CO2, SO2 etc) that pollute the air indefinitely. Also, firecrackers cause extreme discomfort to animals who cannot decipher the meaning behind their use. They think of the loud noise and the flashy lights as signs of danger. Therefore, by saying no to firecrackers, you are not only saving the environment and its members but also celebrating Diwali’s message of goodness!
Owliver Obscure Observations
A research by University of Pune reported that inhaling the smoke from one fuljhadi (sparkler cracker) equals smoking 74 cigarettes!
Send out a prayer for the world
On the day of Diwali, families get together to pray. This time, remember to light a candle or a diya for the world. Our world is healing from a difficult year and our prayers can sooth the process.
If you have a sky lantern at home, send it out of your garden or balcony with a prayer for the world hoping for universal peace, compassion and love- isn’t that what festivals are about?
Festivals remind us to celebrate the little joys of our everyday life and remain grateful for the ability to do that.
This Diwali, let’s unmask love,
light up joy in our lives,
burst hate and fear
and, pray for a beautiful future for our planet.