The Celebration of Diwali
Diwali is a festival that is celebrated every autumn with fireworks and colorful displays inside and outside the country, India. This is the most important holiday that occurs every year in India. It is also named Deepavali and is known as “the festival of the lights” (Dickmann, 2010). Deep in Deepvali stands for “light” and avail stands for “a row,” which means that Deepavali means a row of lights (Dickmann, 2010). It is a Hindu festival that has been commemorated for generations. This festival can last up to five days; however, some celebrants just celebrate Diwali for one day.
Mostly Sikhs and Hindus usually celebrate this festival. Some Buddhists and Jains celebrate Diwali as well. Indians around the world do this celebration in the months of October and November; however, the date changes each year depending on the Hindu lunar calendar (Mir, 2016). This year, 2018, Diwali lands on Wednesday, November 7th.
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They decorate the house with candles; have desserts, and put lights and lamps inside and outside their houses. On the night of Diwali, they have firecrackers to add more lights to the celebration (Mir, 2016). In this celebration, firecrackers have been an important necessity. There are other celebrations that firecrackers are essential as well such as Halloween in United States of America, Chinese New Year in China, St. Bastille’s day in France, and etc. (Mir, 2016).
During Diwali, the celebrants reunite with people they have not seen in a while and they go see their family members, relatives, and companions. Food is prepared at the celebrants’ houses in large portions to be given to family members and guests that come over to their houses for a visit. Food has a significant part in the celebration of Diwali. Some dishes that are prepared for Diwali are gujia, samosas, barfi, karanji, and etc.
Mostly sweets, also known as Mithai in India, are eaten at Diwalli, which are kheers, jalebis, besan ke ladoos, and etc. (DESIblitz, 2014). Different foods are eaten during the celebration traditionally. Majority of the food at Diwali are sweet and savory snacks. It consists of a big feast. The cuisine at Diwali is mostly vegetarian. Some of the vegetarian dishes that are made are saag, which is spinach, channa, which are chick peas, and daal maharani, which are different daals combined together. The most popular sweet that is eaten at the festival is jalebi. Jalebi is traded the most at Diwali and it is sweet, sticky, and orange (DESiblitz, 2014).
Since Diwali is the festival of lights, an important part of the celebration is diyas. It is a symbolic object. Diyas are oil lamps that are made with clay using a cotton wick that are soaked in vegetable oils. These lights are lit in houses that celebrate Diwali to shine light in the dark (DESiblitz, 2014). Also, there are diyas that could be made to be edible. The diyas that are edible are made out of coconut with Khoya mixture in the middle of the diyas.
There is an importance of firecrackers and lights being a big part of Diwali. Firecrackers light up the skies to symbolize respect to heaven for the goals of good health, money, intelligence, peace, and good fortune. Homes are decorated with lights to get rid of the darkness when they are lit at night.
In Diwali, each day has a legend it follows. The first day of this celebration is Naraka Chaturdasi (Das, 2018). This tells the story of the demon named Naraka that was defeated by Lord Krishna and his wife. The second day is Amavasya, which signifies the glorification of Lakshmi that accomplished the desires of her supporters (Das, 2018). On the third day, it is Kartika Shudda Padyami that marks the time that Bali goes out of hell and takes over the earth granted by the gift that was given by Lord Vishnu. On the fourth day, it is dedicated to Yama Dvitiya, which is also known as Bhai Dooj. This day is for sisters to tell their brothers to make a visit to their houses (Das, 2018).
In the northern part of India, there was a fable about King Rama that has a correlation with Diwali (History, 2017). King Rama is a personification of a god named Vishnu. An immoral king in Sri Lanka catches King Rama’s wife Sita then forms an army of monkeys to try to save his wife. The army of monkeys created a bridge that crosses from India to Sri Lanka. Then, they attacked Sri Lanka to save King Rama’s wife and to murder the immoral king in Sri Lanka. After Sita was saved, King Rama and Sita went back to northern India by walking through lights that guided them all the way home (History, 2017). Lights and lamps being lit have been important essentials for Diwali to be celebrated.
In the southern part of India, there is a tale that connects to the celebration of Diwali (History, 2017). The tale is about a Hindu god named Krishna who is a different personification of Vishnu. The Hindu god, Krishna, saves thousands of women from an evil king. In the state that is west of Gujarat, the New Year correlates with Diwali. Diwali has a connection with the request for success from the goddess named Lakshmi to come in the approaching year. During the celebration of Diwali, all of the celebrants do a trade where they give each other coins and presents (History, 2017).
In India, some people choose not to celebrate Diwali. It is a small group of people in India that are against celebrating this festival. The people in this small group usually are associated with non-governmental organizations that work for environmental consternation. They are against it because some of the firecrackers that are used in Diwali come from firecracker industries that have the usage of child labor. Also, the firecrackers are terrible for the environment and causes damage because of the gases and smoke it sets free into the atmosphere (Le Journal International, 2013).
The people that choose to celebrate Diwali believe that this holiday should be celebrated because this holiday has been going on for centuries and generations. They believe that it should continue to be celebrated for the current generation as well. Even though this holiday damages the environment because of the firecrackers, the people that celebrate Diwali believe that it should be focused more on the quality time that people get to spend with relatives and family (Le Journal International, 2013).
In the United States, immigrants from India continue to observe Diwali to keep that connection with their culture from back home. Immigrants in the United States feel that there should be more diversity in this country especially for Diwali. They feel like all immigrants, not just immigrants who are Indian, should join the celebration (Le Journal International, 2013).
There was a study conducted in northern India on the night of Diwali in 2014 and 2015 that was done to show the different types of injuries that were caused by firecrackers (Mir, 2016). The firecrackers at Diwali caused some people to get burns and plastic surgery because of the damage it had done to the people. The people that suffered from injuries due to firecrackers were determined for location and distance down the injuries and amount of burns. 40 patients in the study were sent to get plastic surgery because of the burns and injuries they got from firecrackers.
In 2014, there were 18 patients and in 2015, there were 22 patients. The genders of the 40 patients were 8 females and 32 males. The ages of the patients ranged from 6 years old to 60 years old. (Mir, 2016). If professionals do not do the firecrackers, there could be damage and danger during the celebration of Diwali. Also, in 2005, the firecrackers and sound caused air pollution, which led to India’s supreme court to put out laws to end the pollution. Over the span of nine years, 1,373 confirmations were connected to firecracker injuries during the celebration of Diwali in India.
There is a downside to this significant festival. The industry that produces firecrackers in India was rooted from a region named Sivakasi that is located in Tamil Nadu, Southern India (Le Journal International, 2013). The firecracker production is not controlled; however, the law has designated various standards and the production sometimes follows instructions. One of the essential responsibilities of the production is that this production works with the usage of child labor to a very large degree.
The constitution of India does not let children under the age of fourteen years old to be working in dangerous work environments. Even though this action is against the constitution, the actions that the government makes rules for appear to be pointless. There are big and small accidents that occur in the firecracker industry. The industries that have employed children, who are under the age of fourteen, have to pay a fine for not following the rules of the constitution in India (Le Journal International, 2013).
In the months of October to January, the air pollution is the worse. Diwali occurs in one of these months, which is November. There is an argument that air quality gets worse after Diwali occurs because of the firecrackers that get lit during the celebration. The connection among air pollution and firecrackers burning has been established in other countries as well. In 2017, the India’s Supreme Court wanted to try to forbid the sale of firecrackers (Ghei, 2018).
Overall, Diwali has an important significance spiritually. Diwali is not just only about lights and enjoying the festival with friends and family. It is about forgiving others and giving back to one another. This celebration helps bring everyone together, enjoy each other’s company, and socialize with one another. The lights at Diwali represent the belief that Hindus think that the main light of all of the lights symbolize the inside of the heart. The lights brighten up the soul. The celebration of Diwali encourages the celebrants to do good actions to bring them towards holiness (Das, 2018).