www.whyville.net Oct 31, 2003 Weekly Issue

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Happy Diwali

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Happy Diwali!

This article is a little late, I know. But it's never to late to learn, that's my motto. Actually, it's just one of my mottos. Actually, I just made it up. But anyway, that's not the point. The point is that an important and festive Hindu holiday just passed and I'll bet that you didn't know about it. I didn't either! But now I've read up on it, and I am ready to share my wealth of new knowledge... iin India, wealth is considered a reward for the good deeds of a past life, by the way. :-)

The word "Diwali" is said to come from the Sanskrit word "deepaawali" meaning "row of lights." Diwali is a five-day Hindu festival celebrated all over India and the world. It is a very joyous and festive occasion, as important to Hindus as Christmas is to Christians. The holiday occurs on the 15th day of the Hindu month of Kartika, which generally falls around October or the beginning of November. I believe that this year it began around October 24th or 25th.

There are many legends about the origin of Diwali, but the most widely accepted one is that Diwali is the day when King Rama and Queen Sita were welcomed back to Ayodha after their 14-year-exile. King Rama had defeated the demon king of Lanka, and he was welcomed back to Ayodha to be coronated. By order of the royal families of Ayodha and Mithila (Queen Sita's country), all the houses were to be lit up with rows of lamps to welcome back the royal couple. Their return resulted in a war that ended in the destruction of the kingdom of Lanka.

However, Diwali has many other meanings besides this one. It is a celebration of the triumph of good over evil and of the glory of light. People fill their homes with candles and lamps, set off firecrackers, and exchange gifts and sweets. They enjoy festive meals with families and friends. Diwali is also a celebration of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Families clean and decorate their houses to welcome her in.

Each day of Diwali has a special meaning. On the first day, Hindus bathe, light candles, exchange sweets, and pray for protection from an untimely death. On the second day they worship Kali, the goddess of strength, and focus on ridding themselves of laziness and evil. The third day is the actual Diwali, a day when Lakshmi is worshipped. Hindus light lamps in every home to symbolize knowledge and encourage reflection. The fourth day of Diwali is the first day of the lunar new year, a day to settle old accounts and begin fresh. People concentrate on removing anger, hate and jealousy from their lives. The final day is dedicated to sisters, brothers, or an ancient Indian king named Bali, according to different accounts.

I hope you enjoyed this a little and that you have learned some about this wonderful Hindu festival. Although you may not personally be Hindi, I'm sure that this holiday has a lot that you can relate to: an attempt to forget your anger and jealousy, a celebration of light, a hope for a long life, and even receiving sweets and wealth!

Ah, there's my mom reminding me I have school tomorrow (for some reason she didn't believe that I just must stay home to celebrate this sacred Hindu festival. :-) Ah well, maybe next year.

Off to eat sweets (for religious sake, of course),

Please note: I tried my hardest to be accurate here, but different sources said different things, so I can't be sure everything is correct. Here's where I got my information:



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