Diwali: the Hindu Festival of Lights

By Poonam Daryani ‘13Contributing Writer

This Tuesday, Nov. 13, marks the largest and one of the most important holidays on the Hindu calendar. Diwali, or Deepavali, translates to “row of lamps” and is widely recognized as the Festival of Lights.

Celebrated with great enthusiasm in the Indian subcontinent and its diaspora, Diwali signifies the triumph of good over evil and brightness over darkness. Interpretation of its significance varies considerably between different traditions and geographical regions, but the shared underlying principle is to honor the awakening of an inner light that dispels ignorance and vice.

Generally, the five day holiday is commemorated with prayer ceremonies, family gatherings, bursting firecrackers, twinkling lamps and lights, and an exchange of gifts and sweets. Communities are illuminated with the radiance of diyas, earthen candles that light a path to homes in order to guide and welcome the revered goddess of wealth, Lakshmi.

Each day of Diwali is remembered with its own story and significance, but in Northern India, masses rejoice in the return of Lord Rama, his wife Sita, and his brother Lakshman from their 14-year long exile and triumphant battle against the demon-king Ravana. Warmth and joy consume communities as they are lit with the brilliance of the festivities.

The 5C Hindu Society, with support from various people and organizations (including the Office of the Chaplains, SAS, EKTA, and ASPC), is thrilled to invite you to this year’s 5C Diwali celebration happening Saturday, Nov. 17 at the Edmunds Ballroom in the Smith Campus Center at Pomona College. The Hindu Society—spearheaded by Scripps seniors Tania Bhatia, and Roshni Kakaiya, and me—is committed to bringing together the community to share in and spread awareness of issues and holidays important to the Hindu religion (including HOLI in the spring!).

The festivities for Diwali will begin at 5:00 p.m. with a puja, a prayer ceremony that commemorates and gives thanks the goddess Lakshmi for one’s wealth, good health, and continued prosperity. At 6:00 p.m. a traditional Indian dinner will be served free of charge to all who attend the event. This will be followed by dance and musical performances put on by students, including performances by the 5C Bollywood Dance Team. Over the past few years, the event has boomed in size and popularity, and this year it is sure to be ever grander! All members of the Claremont Colleges community are welcome and encouraged to come learn, experience, and participate in the festivities.

So on Tuesday, be sure to say Happy Diwali (dee-WAL-ee) or Diwali mubarak (moo-BAR-ak) to your friends!