The festival of lights, Diwali signifies the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. Widely rejoiced by Hindus across the globe, celebrations involve the lighting of oil lamps on the day that purports the homecoming of Lord Ram after 14 years in exile as described in the epic Ramayana. Exchanging presents, feasting on traditional sweetmeats and wearing new outfits are other Diwali traditions. A time for both gratitude and happiness, here’s how Diwali is celebrated around the world.
Recognised as Deepavali, the festival is a state holiday in Singapore. With a notable Hindu community, the zeal in Little India is similar to that in any city in India.
The streets are transformed by multi-coloured flowers, buntings and lights. Storefronts are decorated in shades of red and gold, and the sweet fragrance of flowers and incense fills the air. People are decked in their fineries as prayers are held to praise the divine.
Mauritius is an isle in the Indian Ocean which is to the east of Madagascar. This gorgeous landmass is abundant with scenic landscapes and enchanting places. Mauritius estimates 63% of Indian majority, of which 80% follow Hinduism. Therefore, the observance of almost all the Hindu festivals on this island is a tradition.
In Mauritius, Diwali celebration is an age-old custom. It holds unique importance for the inhabitants. They believe that Diwali has been celebrated long before the coming of Lord Rama from 14 years of exile and his crowning as the king. The festival is regarded by the lighting of earthen lamps in lines, creating pictures out of the lines. Lakshmi is revered as the goddess of wealth and firecrackers are burnt to frighten away evil spirits.
Fascinating in its heterogeneity, Malaysia has several mesmerising beauties and attractions. With a population of approximately 20 million, including a harmonious multi-ethnic mix of Malays, Malaysia ensures a vibrant blend of cultural beliefs. The Hindu inhabitants of Malaysia form about eight percent of its entire population.
The Malaysian people recognise Diwali as Hari Diwali. This festival is observed during the seventh month of the Hindu solar calendar. The South Indian ritual of oil bath precedes the celebrations. The festival involves visits to temples and prayers at home altars. Little lamps moulded from clay and filled with coconut oil and wicks are a familiar sight.
Asians rank amongst one of the biggest immigrant population in the USA of which, Indians are a large number. Most cities have a big Indian community and Diwali is a holiday celebrated with a lot of excitement. Be it New Jersey, Illinois, Texas or California, temples across hold a Diwali night that marks priests offering common prayers. After this a vegetarian communal feast is held.
Larger cities also arrange a Diwali parade in some parts. Like anywhere else in the world, friends and family meet at each other’s homes and give presents as part of the Diwali festivities.
With a significant number of Indians in Australia, cities like Sydney and Melbourne observe Diwali celebrated within various pockets of the community. Most notably, Diwali at Federation Square in Melbourne has risen to become the biggest celebration in Australia.
Marked with a grand exhibition of fireworks, live performance like traditional dances of India along with art and other cultural shows, Diwali is enjoyed by all.
Nepal is a landlocked nation nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas. It is a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual community which is the only Hindu Kingdom of the world. Diwali is commemorated here with the typical Hindu festivities and customs. Diwali in Nepal is identified as Tihar. Just like most regions in India, Diwali is celebrated here to honour the goddess of fortune and god of prosperity, Lakshmi and Ganesh respectively. The festival of light comes in October or November on the day of Amavasya - the darkest day of the year.
The festival here lasts for five days. Every day has its unique importance. The first day is devoted to cows as they prepare rice and feed the cattle believing that goddess Lakshmi appears on cows. The second day is for Dogs as the Vahana of Bhairava. Arrangement of tasty food mainly meant for the dog is a common feature of the day. Lights and lamps are lit to radiate the entire surroundings, and some of the speciality items are cooked to mark the third day of the festival. Fireworks, lamps and crackers are extensively used. The fourth day is devoted to Yama, the Hindu God of Death. He is prayed for long life. The fifth and final day is Bhaiya Dhooj dedicated to the brothers who are wished long life and prosperity by their sisters.
Saumya Rastogi is an intern with SheThePeople.TV