What is Diwali?
Diwali is the festival of lights and has great significance for Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and the Nepalese. Regardless of religion, Diwali is celebrated all over India as a national festival.
There are many legends associated with Diwali but the most common legend is from the great Hindu epic, Ramayana. In this legend, Rama, the prince of Ayodhya was ordered by his father, Kind Dasharatha, to go away from his country and come back after living in the forest for fourteen years. Rama went into the forest with his wife, Sita and brother, Lakshmana. When the demon kind, Ravana, abducted Sita and took her to his island kingdom of Lanka, Rama fought and killed Ravana and rescued Sita and returned to Ayodhya after fourteen years. The people of Ayodhya were so happy to see their Prince Rama return, they lit up their houses with diyas (earthen lamps), lit fireworks and decorated their city.
Another favorite legend is that this is the day the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, rose from the ocean and married Lord Vishnu. Beautiful lamps were placed in rows to celebrate this occasion and to seek the Goddess Lakshmis blessing for the coming year.
Different ways to celebrate Diwali
Light diyas (clay lights)
Today Diwali is celebrated across the world as the "Festival of Light," where the lights or lamps signify victory of good over evil within every human beng. Clay lamps are lit to drive away the shadows of evil spirits.
Rangoli on doorsteps
Rangoli (meaning row of colors) is a kind of floor painting that is used as a sign of welcome. The main purpose of making rangoli during Diwali is to welcome the Goddess Laxshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, to our homes to cast away evil.
For most Indians, Diwali is a meatless holiday and sweets play a big role during Diwali. Go out and buy dessert to serve on this day and either get yummy Indian vegetarian takeout or find a recipe and make some fun Indian dishes at home.
Playing games and gambling are a big part of Diwali. You can make this more family friendly and play card games such as Rummy or Go Fish or other games such as Charades, Hide & Seek or a Scavenger Hunt.