This time of the year is a time for celebration among Indians, as the Hindus celebrate one of their most important festivals of the year, Diwali, which means “festival of lights.” Last week, the Indian Student Association of the Colorado School of Mines celebrated Diwali with music, dancing, and, of course, great food.
The Diwali celebration usually lasts five days and celebrates the triumph of good over evil, as signified by lighting rows of oil lamps. During the festivities, the Hindus praise their gods for vanquishing the demons and banishing evil spirits from the land.
The first day of Diwali, Dhan teras, is an auspicious day and normally falls on November 13. Many businesses start their fiscal year on this day, believing that all transactions and business deals begun on this day will be blessed by the goddess Lakshmi.
The second day of Diwali is Naraka Chaturdashi, on which the demon Naraka was destroyed by Lord Krishna. Hindus celebrate by taking an oil bath before sunrise, for bathing under the stars is considered to be the equivalent to bathing in the holy Ganges river. The people then light small oil lamps in their houses throughout the day, and at night, the children light firecrackers to celebrate the end of evil Naraka.
The third day, Amavasya, is specifically made to worship Lakshmi. Lakshmi is in her most benevolent mood on the third day of Diwali, and it is believed that she is most likely to offer financial blessings on that day.
The fourth day of Diwali is Kartika Shudda Padyami. During this day Hindus praise Vishnu for sending King Bali to overtake Patala, the governor of the underworld. Bali was banished by Vishnu for his conquest of heaven.
The final day of Diwali is Bhai Dooj, in which sisters invite their brothers into their homes and share meals with them. This is specifically for brothers and sisters to intentionally show their love for each other and keep the bonds of family strong. Upon leaving the house, brothers will give a gift to their sisters as a sign of gratitude and affection.
The festival of lights is one of the most important celebrations in Hindu culture, and is considered a time of rejoicing and blessing by many Indians. Celebrating with the Indian Student Association at Mines offers a glimpse into the lives and culture of those who have a vastly different background to our own, and shows support for the Indians at Mines.