Headmistress Shashi writes: “The school has been very busy in preparation for Diwali.
The students celebrated with great enthusiasm. They painted Diyas (small oil lamps) which were just delightful. They also decorated rangolis using rice flour to create a paste and several dyes to create a variety of colors to brighten their masterpiece. Rangoli represents peace, joy and prosperity and it is usually created at the entrance to one’s home.”
Diwali…A Brief History
The celebration of Diwali is as old as the history of India. Diwali usually falls in the months of October or November (its date is determined by the Hindu calendar). Diwali symbolizes the celebration of good over evil, the renewal of life, and the beginning of the Hindu New Year. Celebrated for five days, it is the third day of Diwali which possesses the greatest fanfare and is known as the ‘Festival of Lights.’ On this auspicious day, Hindus light up diyas (small oil lamps) and candles all around their house, gardens, rooftops and outer walls. They perform Laxmi Puja in the evening and seek divine blessings of the Goddess of Wealth. The celebration of Diwali cannot be complete without the exchange of sweets and a fireworks show.
Diwali’s Historical and Mythical Roots
There are many legends associated with Diwali’s origin and history. The legends of Diwali are derived from stories in the Hindus’ religious scriptures. The most famous of the legends is of Lord Rama. The story tells us that Lord Rama, his wife Sita, and his younger brother Lakshman were asked to leave the kingdom of Ayodhya by his father King Dashratha. After 14 years of exile, Lord Rama defeated the demon Ravana of Lanka, (who had abducted Sita) and returned home to a kingdom that welcomed him with the lighting of clay lamps throughout the kingdom.
Throughout India, the Diwali festival also signifies the celebration of different goddesses. In north India, Diwali celebrates Rama’s return to Ayodhya after the defeat of Ravana and his coronation as King. In Gujarat (western tip of India), Diwali celebrators honor Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth; and in Bengal, the festival celebrates Kali, the goddess of destruction who destroys ignorance, sin and decay to create anew.