Deepavali or also known as the “festival of lights” is the largest, most significant and widely celebrated holiday in India and by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists around the world. Although not limited to these denominations, as everyone are welcome to participate in this celebration of this festival. The main theme of the festival relates to all faith as it symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil and hope over despair. To some, Deepavali is the counterpart of New Year celebration in the Western region of the world.
Diwali vs Deepavali
The meaning of both words is the same. The spelling and pronunciation differs based on the region in India where it is celebrated. Diwali is popularly used in North India, while Deepavali is mostly used in South India.
Origin and Celebration
One of the most popular story origins of the festival is the legend of Lord Rama returning to their Kingdom in Northern India after defeating Ravana, the evil king of Lanka (now Sri Lanka). In victorious celebration of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya started lighting up their pathways with diyas (oil lamps) and firecrackers. Which symbolizes the victory of good over evil.
Another popular story involves kolam, a form of traditional drawings made from colourful rice powders. Kolam is drawn on the path outside the house to invite ants and birds. In a way it symbolizes Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and health, being welcomed into their houses.
It is also a time to reflect on all of the positives in life through your family and friends, health, prosperity and harmony – how truly blessed one is and the realisation of what is truly important. The good and virtuous self will triumph over the evil and spiteful. That within ourselves we will choose to not let our egos get on the way to be the best of ourselves. In simple words, looking on the bright side of life, pun intended.
Experience the festival of lights
Want to have a first-hand encounter of the festival? Head down to Little India where the streets are adorned with bright lights and colourful arches. Welcoming everyone into the spirit of the Deepavali festival are numbers of stalls selling a huge variety of selections. From floral garlands, embellished oil lamps, fancy embroidered saris, sophisticated evening bags, unique accessories, rangolis, lanterns to other festive goodies and treats!
The air will be filled with rich aromas like the scent of jasmine, roses and marigolds – braided into floral garlands, plus the fragrances of Indian spices, sweet and musty incense and full-bodied aroma of Ayurvedic oils.
If you haven’t visited Little India at this time of the year yet, you should check it out soon before the festival ends. Let us know your experience and if you have any recommended shops for us to try. We are definitely going to check out the sweets stalls!
Note: It might be a bit too crowded especially when the Festival is nearing, so plan ahead. 😉