Diwali (Deepavali) 2013: Sunday, November 3
Diwali will be celebrated globally on November 3, 2013. Diwali, the “Festival of Lights” which symbolizes the victory of dharma and good over evil, is one of the most celebrated festivals in the Hindu diaspora. The word is a variation of the Sanskrit word Deepavali, and refers to the rows of earthen lamps celebrants place around their homes. Hindus believe that the light from these lamps symbolizes the illumination within the individual that overwhelms ignorance, represented by darkness. In addition to the lighting of lamps, many in India celebrate the night of Diwali with colorful firecrackers.
Many Hindus recognize Diwali as a day celebrating the return of the avatar Lord Rama (the incarnation of Lord Vishnu), His wife Sita and brother Lakshman to their capitol, Ayodhya, after 14 years of exile. The residents of Ayodhya, overjoyed at the return of their beloved King, lit lamps in His honor. Thus, the entire city looked like a row of lights. Other Hindus commemorate Diwali as the day Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura.
In addition to the spiritual significance the day holds for Hindus, Sikhs celebrate the release of the Sixth Guru, Hargobind, from captivity by the Mughal Emperor Jehangir, and Jains commemorate Diwali as the day Lord Mahavira, the last of the Tirthankaras, attained Nirvana, or liberation, after his death in 527 B.C.
While the reasons for what it commemorates vary, Diwali is a time for dana (charitable giving) and seva (selfless service). The alleviation of tangible forms of suffering, such as hunger, disease, and poverty, is an essential component of the Hindu tradition. Service is worship, no less than performing a puja or practicing meditation or studying scripture.
In the spirit of Diwali, HAF urges you to donate your time and resources for the upliftment of those in need. Remember to support your favorite charities this Diwali through both dana and seva.
Namaste HAF Parents!
With Diwali just around the corner, the Hindu American Foundation is proud to announce its annual National Teach Diwali in School Week: October 28 - November 1 (Diwali actually falls on November 3rd this year). To help you introduce Diwali to your children and their classmates, we’ve taken care of the planning by creating a Diwali Toolkit. All you need to do is choose a few or all of the many suggested activities, buy a few supplies, and then arrange a time with your child’s teacher for to pay a visit.
Although Diwali is one of the most widely celebrated Hindu festivals, many of our neighbors, teachers, and friends haven’t heard about it. In that light, HAF hopes you will reach out to your children’s teachers and request the opportunity to give a fun and informative Diwali presentation to the entire class. Hinduism teaches vasudhaiva kutumbakam, that the whole world is one family, so why not celebrate this festival with our extended family?
This Diwali Toolkit is constructed as a guideline for your classroom presentation. In here, you will find everything you need to celebrate the festival in a classroom -- from how to explain the meaning of Diwali to snack items for sharing to group activity ideas. We’ve included links to coloring pages and cut-outs to create the suggested crafts, as well as a colorful Powerpoint presentation that can also be printed out if a projector is unavailable. This year, we've included activities for middle school children as well...including a Ramayana skit and homemade diyas!
Best wishes and Happy Diwali to you from all of us here at HAF!