Monday, November 13, 2023

STEAM: Cultural Knowledge and Understanding. DIWALI. November 2023

Diwali is a major festival celebrated by many of our friends and colleagues who are Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs around the world. It is also known as the Festival of Lights, as people light lamps, candles, and fireworks to symbolize the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. 

Diwali usually falls in October or November, depending on the lunar calendar. The festival lasts for five days, each with its own rituals and significance.

The history of Diwali is linked to various stories and legends in different regions and religions of India. 

Some of the most common ones are:

·        The return of Lord Rama, his wife Sita, and his brother Lakshmana to their kingdom of Ayodhya after 14 years of exile and defeating the demon king Ravana. The people of Ayodhya welcomed them by lighting rows of lamps.

·        The incarnation of Lord Vishnu as Krishna, who killed the tyrant king Narakasura and freed 16,000 captive princesses. The next day, Krishna’s consort Radha and the other women applied colorful powders on his face, which started the tradition of playing with colors during Diwali.

·        The worship of Goddess Lakshmi, the deity of wealth and prosperity, who was born from the churning of the ocean by the gods and the demons. People perform Lakshmi puja, clean and decorate their homes, and exchange gifts and sweets to invite her blessings.

·        The nirvana or liberation of Mahavira, the 24th and last Tirthankara of Jainism, who established the core principles of ahimsa (non-violence), anekantavada (many-sidedness), and aparigraha (non-attachment). Jains observe fasting, meditation, and charity on this day4.

Diwali is a time to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, and to spread joy and peace. It is also a time to reflect on our inner light, and to seek the divine grace within us.

Happy Diwali!

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