The Diwali festival of lights as it is called in the north of India or the Deepavali festival the name of the south presents a yearly event in Auckland since October 2002. It is organised in partnership with the Asia New Zealand Foundation. The festival celebrates the victory from good over evil or light over darkness. Events take place at the end of September and the beginning of October. It reflects the vibrant Indian population living in and around Auckland City. The number of Indian immigrants increases steadily.
The following article about the Diwali festival of
lights, written by Lakshmi Menon, gives insight in Diwali
tradition and origin. Skip to read about the background of the Diwali festival...
Deepavali, also known as Diwali, is an important festival celebrated all over India. It usually falls around late October or early November on the new moon day. This difference in day is due to the variation in regional calendars. Though there are different myths about this festival the central theme of all remains as one -Good wins over Evil.
It is a 3-day festival in South India, and in some parts it is celebrated for 5 days. Generally, Deepavali celebration in Tamil Nadu is to commemorate the killing of Narakasura, the demon king, by Lord Krishna. In Karnataka it is called as Bali Paadyami to mark the annual visit of King Bali to see his subjects. They also consider this occasion as Festival of Wealth and Prosperity. In Kerala, though celebrated, it is not a major festival like the other parts of South India. In Andhra Pradesh also this festival is celebrated.
Preparations for the celebration of this festival start weeks before with the spring cleaning of the home, and by purchasing new clothes and ornaments. Shopping for crackers and sparklers is a special occasion especially for the kids.
On the main festival day the houses are decorated with artistically laid kolams. The doorways are adorned with garlands of mango leaves and marigolds, known as "torans". New clothes are bought and the womenfolk make various sweets, the favorite being murukku in Tamil Nadu.
Deepavali celebration starts in the very early morning. Waking up during the 'Brahmamuhurta' (at 4 a.m.) is a great blessing from the stand point of health, ethical discipline, efficiency in work and spiritual advancement. One by one all family members take oil bath with seasame oil. It is a customary belief that having an oil bath in the morning on the day of diwali, before sunrise, is equivalent to taking bath in the Ganges.
After the bath they wear the new clothes and put on their new ornaments. Then the children start bursting crackers, symbolising the killing of the demon king Narakasur. Then puja is performed to the family deities before breakfast and offer the neivedyam. Many visit the temples to seek God's blessings. Special sweets are made during Deepavali to rejoice the occasion. The other items prepared during this festival are ukkarai, velli appam, idly, chutney, sambhar, omapudi and boondhi. For lunch, jangri, pathir peni, or one variety of the poli are made.
In the evenings, deepas, also called as diyas, are lighted and kept in the corridors of each house, welcoming Goddess Lakshmi for wealth and prosperity. It is followed by bursting crackers and lighting colorful sparklers, by the young and old alike.
Hindus also believe that departed souls return during this time. As a mark of respect to them, their favorite foods are prepared and placed on banana leaves before the photographs of the departed, and offer prayers to them.
Many companies offer great discounts during this festival. They open new account books on Deepavali, and also give sweets and bonus to their staff.
It is also a day for all to forget the enmity and forgive those who have hurt them, thus glorifying their inner soul with love, removing the darkness of ignorance and ill-feeling.
Another great achievement of celebrating festivals in India is that it strengthens the family unity and social relationships.
Lakshmi Menon writes articles on various
including South India tourism. You can visit http://www.enchanting-south-india-vacations.com
to know more about this and other festivals of South India.
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