Diwali, the festival of lights is just a day away… The skies will be lit up as Hindu’s around the world celebrate with a lot of zeal and enthusiasm. Diwali is one of the most famous festivals of the year lasting five days. However, in South Africa, the Hindu’s celebrate over two days; 29 and 30 October 2016.
Diwali festival signifies the victory of light over darkness. Diwali festival occurs on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksha of the Hindu calendar month of Ashwin each year. And on this day, people light up diyas and perform puja’s at their place so that Goddess Lakshmi grants them with happiness and prosperity. Women draw rangolis, light lamps and even exchange sweets with their dear ones.
The South African Hindu Maha Sabha has issued an important Diwali Notice giving guidelines for Diwali Fireworks. These guidelines include day and time restrictions as well as cautions. The Maha Sabha has also asked that persons celebrating should refer to local council bylaws and to be sensitive to neighbours and all animals.
How is Diwali celebrated?
From the onset of the autumn, people start gearing up to celebrate the festival. People buy gold, silver and utensils for home, clean and furnish their houses and decorate them with colourful rangolis and bright diyas.
People worship Lakshmi — the goddess of wealth and prosperity, and Ganesha, the remover of all obstacles, on Diwali.
The five-day celebrations start with the festival of wealth, Dhanteras, followed by Naraka Chaturdashi on the second day, Deepavali on the third day, Diwali Padva celebrating the husband-wife bond on the fourth day and the festivities end with Bhai Dooj dedicated to the sister-brother relationship on the fifth day.
Before the night of Diwali, people clean, renovate, and decorate their homes and offices. They dress up in new clothes, light up lamps and candles and participate in pujas worshipping Lakshmi. After puja, fireworks follow, and a family feast that includes the exchange of sweets and gifts between family members, friends and loved ones.
For many businessmen, this is also the day when they start a new financial year with the adoption of a fresh ‘bahi khata’ or accounts book, after offering it to goddess Lakshmi. They believe that with her blessings, it will be a profitable year for them.