Diwali: A Holiday You May Not Be Familiar With

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We live in a diverse world. There are many cultural clusters in the areas in and around metro Detroit. In fact, the largest single immigrant group in Metro Detroit comes from India. This weekend, on Saturday, we celebrate Diwali. I have enjoyed elaborate celebrations in years past because my husband is of Indian Heritage. We are continually involved in immersing our three girls in their heritage, which includes Indian, Irish, and American. 

It’s also known as the Hindu Festival of Lights in India.

Around the world where Indian people have emigrated, people also celebrate Diwali every fall. The holiday of Diwali is based on the Hindu Lunar Calendar that aligns with the Roman Calendar during October and November.

The Festival of Lights is a five-day celebration. 

The most auspicous celebrations are on the third day of Diwali when the tradition is to light Diyas (small oil lamps) to signify the triumph of good over evil.

The Festival of Lights celebrated in India has existed for thousands of years. Different regions of India celebrate different stories. The story of Rama and Sita is predominantly celebrated in the north. In the south, the celebration is for the victory of Krishna over the demon Narakasura and is celebrated a day before the northern holiday.

Fireworks can often be seen during Diwali as well. If you happen to see fireworks around the city this weekend, now you know that they are likely celebrating Diwali. There are many events in the area surrounding this special holiday.

The stories surrounding Diwali are rich with adventure.

Evil King Ravana, captured Princess Sita, and the Hero Prince Rama triumphing over evil make for great bedtime reading.

Diwali is also a festival that honors Lakshmi and Ganesh. Families clean and prepare their homes. They also perform Poojas and light Diyas as invitations for Lakshmi and Ganesh to bestow their blessings.

To celebrate, people dress in new and vibrantly colored clothing. Families prepare special food and prepare a clean house. During Diwali, families exchange gifts. It’s typically celebrated with grandeur, but, due to the pandemic, will likely be more modestly attended this year.

Further Education

The following list of books are a wonderful resource to teach your children about a custom that they may not have celebrated before. My personal favorite is Prince of Fire (Retold by Jatinder Verma. Illustrated by Nilesh Mistry). 

Also available at local libraries:

Taking the time to get to know those with different life experiences can be life-changing. I have learned a great deal about India’s traditions and history from both my husband and my close friends who were born there. After eight years of marriage, my husband and I are still learning new things from each other every day.

To learn more from Molly about her family’s heritage and stories, click here

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