By: Dhivana Rajgopaul
This year millions of Indians will be preparing to celebrate one of the most auspicious Hindu festivals and an important date on the Hindu calendar Deepavali.
Diwali, which is the English pronunciation, falls between mid-October to mid-November and in 2014 it will be celebrated on October 23. The celebrations normally last over four days but has one special day to celebrate. The word Deepavali means a series of lights, a row of lights or spreading light and is celebrated to bring in the New Year according to the Hindu calendar. The festival symbolises the victory of light over darkness or good overpowering evil.
Deepavali is observed by Hindus across the world to mark the return of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana to Ayodhya after defeating the demon Ravana as narrated in the Ramayan. It is also believed to be connected to honouring Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity.
There are many preparations that go into getting ready for Diwali. Many different types of things are baked such as barfi, gulab jamun or banana puri. People spend many days in advance in making their sweetmeats and can make up to 7 to 8 different types of sweetmeats.
Other events that take place during the day include putting on new clothes and exchanging boxes of sweetmeats with your neighbours, family and friends. It is essential to light up the house with clay lamps and candles. It is believed that by lighting the lamps and candles Lakshmi will be able to find your home and come and visit you.
At the end of the evening families gather together in their homes to light fireworks just as the people of Ayodhya did to welcome Rama back. In India and in some parts of Durban people collect outside their homes and celebrate Diwali by lighting fireworks with one another.
The South African Hindu Maha Sabha is an organisation that works to progress the development of the Hindu teachings in South Africa. Every year they organise a Diwali festival where Hindus can meet and celebrate Diwali together. This year the organisation will be having a float procession through the Durban CBD and in the evening a grand opening where local and international artists’ wll be performing. They will also be having “bhangra” which is a Punjabi dance to Punjabi music and a wonderful fireworks display.