The Festival of Light ✨

By Charisma Rossilia

Deepavali marks the time when Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world celebrate the victory of good over evil, wisdom over ignorance, and light over darkness.

It’s that time of the year again where we celebrate Deepavali! It's a festival that enlightens both the Earth and the Sky, and spreads happiness throughout the world. Deepavali serves as a reminder that life is much more than just a journey and that we are all engaged in an ongoing search for knowledge and the truth.

We speak to Parthiban to learn more about what Deepavali truly is and how it is celebrated.

Can you share why Deepavali is celebrated?
Deepavali has been celebrated from ancient times due to various reasons. First and foremost, Deepavali means a festival of light or its literal meaning, a row of light. This brings us back to many reasons why Hindus, Sikhs and Jains celebrate Deepavali. Among the ancient or puranic story behind this festival is that this day commemorates the triumph of a Valiant King, King Arjuna, over a raging demon named Narakasura who created chaos. Hence why it's called the festival of light. Triumph over darkness. That is why you would see lots of lamps lit up at houses.

It’s amazing to see lights everywhere during Deepavali! What are your Deepavali traditions like?
Our Deepavali traditions are quite simple but it may not apply to all. Some opt for grandeur traditions, some opt for a simpler celebration. Our family is the latter. Usually among the significant traditions would be to bathe in gingelly oil in the morning of Deepavali and then prayers. The house is lit up with lamps and also kolam to welcome light over darkness and to decorate the house. Ideally, one should be vegetarian on the first day of Deepavali as the first day is very auspicious. Not many follow this though these days. You can eat non-veg items from the second day onwards. Apart from that, we visit family members and carry on with other rituals and prayer offerings.

Speaking of kolam, what is it?
Kolam is a traditional decorative art drawn by using rice flour mainly with some cow dung. This mainly serves as decoration and is usually drawn at the entrance of each house. Drawing kolam is a part of yogasana (a form of yoga exercise) where the person sits down and draws. This improves concentration and the meditative mind. The benefits of washing the area with cow dung dissolved water is because it has antibacterial properties.

Back then, every house used to do their own kolam outside their house. But now they sell ready made sticker kolams so people opt for that!

What do you and your family normally do to prepare for Deepavali?
We usually start our prep one month before where we would be making muruku. It's quite a labour intensive dish but if you do it together, it's not too bad! After all, you get to bond with your family. Then we will bake some cookies and spring clean our house. We also shop for some new clothes. A day before Deepavali, we will cook and bring food to the resting places of our late grandparents or any deceased family members as offerings and for prayers. This is to thank them for all their blessings and to seek forgiveness if any. Ancestral worship is an important aspect that is not given its due attention by many. The night before would be spent decorating and playing firecrackers!

What is your favourite part of the celebration?
That I get to spend time with family and friends. Not to forget, the different delicacies! Calories don't count during Deepavali!

Happy Deepavali to those celebrating!

Photo by Umesh Soni on Unsplash

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