Yesterday was the fifth and last day of Deepavali, usually shortened to Diwali, the festival of lights. I attended a Diwali celebration on campus held in the Campus Center Ballroom. It was really fun! They had wonderful decorations, cultural performances, Indian FOOD, and an offering/prayer/puja that included audience participation. As they explained the traditions and meanings of words and symbols, the prayers and festival became more meaningful.
I learned that the Sanskrit origin of the word “Deepavali” means a row of lamps. My favorite concept about this festival is the reason why lamps, or diyas, are traditionally used instead of electric lights. Only a lamp can illuminate another lamp without diminishing its own radiance (by lighting one lamp, you can use its fire to light all other lamps and its light still remains).
Thus, lamps spread illumination, representing the sharing of knowledge with each other. The festival celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, a symbol of knowledge over ignorance.
My favorite part of this festival is wearing mehendi, or henna! It’s a type of temporary tattoo. They had henna cones available as take-home goodies but unfortunately no artists to put them on. I looked up designs online and am relatively happy with how my mehendi turned out – not bad for a beginner!
Published on November 2nd, 2016
Last updated on August 29th, 2017