Diwali, the festival of lights, is one of the highlights of the Hindu calendar. The holiday is based on stories where good triumphs over evil, and it is celebrated over five days. It is a time of reflection, gifts, family, and, of course, lights. It is also the start of the Hindu New Year.
NBC News says that Diwali is celebrated around the world, and cities in the United States are lit up, illuminating the streets.
“In the Little India district of Artesia, Calif., the streets become illuminated ahead of Diwali. For millions of Indians who live away from India, celebrating Diwali is a way for them to stay connected to their roots.”
Diwali helps Indians around the world stay in touch with their heritage.
According to CNN, there are several things one should know about Diwali. First, Diwali, or Deepavali, means a row of lights or lamps.
“Diwali is known as the festival of lights because of the oil lamps and electric lights that people use to decorate homes, businesses and public spaces. As a celebration of the victory of good over evil and light over darkness, light is an important physical and spiritual symbol of the holiday.”
Diwali is a huge deal in the United Kingdom too, where lighting festivals are attended by more than just Hindus.
“In 2014, about 30,000 people attended a ‘switch-on’ of more than 6,000 lamps in Leicester to mark the start of Diwali. Indians are the second-largest minority in Britain, according to IBT.”
But according to Metro, there is a dark shadow on this year’s Diwali. This year, British Sikhs, in solidarity with Sikhs killed and injured in protests last month, are calling for “Black Diwali.”
“Sikh temples across the country, including those in Southall, Edinburgh, Glasgow, East London and Coventry, are also asking people not to celebrate Diwali in the traditional way following the desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh holy book) in Punjab.”
There were protests last month after a copy of the Holy Book was found torn in the village of Bargari. #BlackDiwali symbolizes solidarity with the protesters and those who came out to protest the harm to the Holy Book.
CBC Canada is also discouraging the usual Diwali in British Columbia due to the turmoil back in India. It is not being suggested that people avoid Diwali. Instead, a toned down Diwali is suggested, rather than huge fireworks displays across the metro Vancouver area.
“‘We’re telling people don’t bring those lights, just come and sit in the prayer hall,’ said Bhajan Singh Toor with the Khalsa Diwan Society in Abbotsford.'”
Satwinder Bains, the director of Indo-Canadian Studies at the University of Fraser Valley, believes that people around the world will stand in solidarity with those back in the Punjab region.
“‘If I look at San Jose, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Australia, England, I see all of them also supporting this ban,’ said Bains.'”
It is being said that this year’s Diwali should just be a time for people to come together and live peacefully. That is the message of the holiday. Lighting candles will always be welcome, but the larger displays like fireworks should remain dark for this year.
What do you think about Diwali, and are you in support of #BlackDiwali?
[Image via Wikipedia]