Diwali (Deepavali) 2010

Significance | National Teach Diwali in School DayGreetings & Wishes  Diwali Gift Card from AmEx

The Significance

Perhaps the most widely recognized Hindu festival, Diwali, or Deepavali, will be celebrated globally November 5, 2010.  Diwali, the “Festival of Lights” which symbolizes the victory of dharma, and good over evil, is the 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 commemorate, 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.
"Give. Give with faith. Do not give without faith. Give with sensitivity. Give with a feeling of abundance. Give with right understanding." - Taittiriya Upanishad

National Teach Diwali in School Day: November 4, 2010

HAF is proud to announce its first-ever National Teach Diwali in School Day on November 4, 2010.  Get the details here and download HAF's Diwali Toolkit to assist you in your presentation

Greetings & Wishes

Statement by the President on Diwali (November 4, 2010)
"Tomorrow, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists, here in America and around the world, will celebrate the holiday of Diwali – the festival of lights.  This is a day when members of some of the world's oldest religions celebrate the triumph of good over evil.  Last year, I marked this holiday as many will this weekend – by lighting the Diya, or lamp.  This lamp symbolizes the victory of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.
Diwali is a time for celebration, but it is also a time for reflection – a time when we must remember that there are always others less fortunate then ourselves. This holiday reminds us all that we should commit ourselves to helping those in need.  For many, this is also a time to gather with family and to pray.  To those celebrating Diwali in India, I look forward to visiting you over the next few days.  And to all those who will celebrate this joyous occasion on Friday, I wish you, your families and loved ones Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak."
Please click here to view the official statement online.
Congressional, State and Local Leaders
“I wish a joyous Diwali to Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains in America and around the world. The shared Indian holiday of Diwali offers lessons not just for its 850 million celebrants worldwide but for all of humanity. This “Festival of Lights” shines a path toward tolerance and celebrates the pursuit of knowledge and personal charity. Diwali reminds all of us that we can help the less fortunate among us, including the lonely hospital patient, the homeless veteran, and the hungry child. This country is strongest when we confront our challenges together. United as a strong pluralistic America, we can work together to tear down the barriers to a more just and peaceful world.”
-U.S. Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA)
"It is my great honor to offer my best wishes to all Americans on the occasion of Diwali this November 5th.  To my fellow Hindus this is a joyous celebration of the victory of Good over Evil upon the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya.  I hope all Americans, regardless of their faith tradition, can join this celebration as a victory of knowledge and tolerance for all peoples.  It is appropriate for the 'Festival of Lights' to shine the way to greater understanding and reverence for all America and indeed the entire world."
-Delegate Kumar Barve, Majority Leader, Maryland House of Delegates
Warm wishes and greetings for a very happy Diwali from Fremont. As we approach the festival season, we reflect on the significance of Diwali - the festival lights - the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and the coming together as a community. I wish all the HAF readers and their families a warm festival season and a very very happy Diwali."
-Anu Natarajan, Fremont City Councilmember
Download the Diwali Day Proclamation issued by Harris County, TX.
-Ed Emmett, Harris County Judge
Download the Diwali Day Proclamation issued by City of Bellaire, TX.
-Cynthia Siegel, Mayor, City of Bellaire, TX
Community Leaders
"One of the major days of the festival, the Lakshmi Puja, is a moonless night on which Hindus light millions of lamps to welcome Devi Lakshmi, the presiding Deity of wealth and prosperity. Traditionally, Devi Lakshmi rides an owl (which is considered a low IQ bird in Hindu symbolism, unlike in the Western tradition in which it represents wisdom) as her vehicle. She is also depicted as pressing the feet of Lord Vishnu – who represents the Nourishing and Preserving aspects of God in Hinduism. If we spend our resources foolishly (like an owl), our wealth will take us for a ride and become our master. But if we spend our wealth in the way of the Lord, bringing the light of wisdom, knowledge, nourishment and shelter in order to remove the darkness of poverty, hunger, suffering and ignorance, then alone are we the true masters of our riches. So the message of Diwali to all is that we must use our bounties to remove poverty, illiteracy and sorrow and not for hoarding meaningless, ephemeral and ostentatious material goods."
-Vishal Agrawal, Recipient of HAF's 2010 Dharma Seva Award
"We wish to extend our warmest wishes to everyone on this auspicious occasion of Diwali, the Festival of Lights.  May lightness outshine darkness, knowledge outshine darkness, and goodness outshine darkness.  Happy Diwali!"
-Desh & Jaishree Deshpande

“We would like to thank HAF for their tireless efforts in furthering Hindu American advocacy.  As a 2+ million strong community in this country, HAF is critical to representing our community and engaging in the political process that is necessary to ensure that our viewpoints are properly communicated and represented in our national dialogue.  On this occasion, we wish the staff and supporters of HAF and all Hindu Americans a Happy Diwali 2010 and best wishes for the new year ahead!”
-Gautam & Anjali Prakash, Founder & Managing Director, Monsoon Capital
"Warmest Diwali wishes to the entire HAF team and all Hindus around the world. May the bright lights of Diwali shine upon all of us and make this season a special one filled with happiness."
-K. Surikumar, Chairman & CEO, American Reprographics Company
“Wishing HAF and all Hindu Americans a Happy Diwali 2010.”
-Pankaj Jain, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy and Religion Studies, University of North Texas
"I wish everyone a very happy Diwali this November 5."
-Khyati Joshi, Associate Professor, School of Education, Fairleigh Dickinson University
“Light is a universal symbol of the Divine. When it is the light from the Deepavali lamps, or from Hanukkah candles, or the mystic light on Emptiness (prabhasa), or in a Parsi agiari, we all intuit in the flame a connection to the Divine. May your hearts glow brightly this Deepavali, may its lamps be an inspiration for all of us.”
-Nathan Katz, Professor and Founding Chair of Department of Religious Studies, Florida International University
“Holy days are a common occurrence in India, since nearly every day is considered holy somewhere in the country.  Some holy days are limited to a particular region, others are pan-Indian, while a few also connect the multiple religious traditions that have their origins in the land, i.e. Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikkhism.  Diwali is unique among them in bringing together a variety of disparate religious and cultural traditions and beliefs, as well as historical events.  It is not only celebrated all over India, but it has been carried to all the lands where Indians have migrated as well.  Although there are many different reasons why Diwali is celebrated by the various religious groups, what they have in common is the belief that the day, in one way or another, commemorates freedom from ignorance, darkness, and evil, and an awakening, or reawakening, of light, goodness, and wisdom.  Thanks to the tireless efforts of the Hindu American Foundation, this auspicious has been acknowledged in by the U.S. government as a holy day as well.  Hopefully, as Americans become aware of the holy day, more will be inspired to use it as an inspiration to move our country away from ignorance and darkness and into the light of wisdom and goodness.”
-Ramdas Lamb, Associate Professor, Department of Religion, University of Hawai'i
Interfaith Leaders
“The Catholics of the Archdiocese of Detroit send all American Hindus warm greetings and best wishes on the occasion of the celebration of Diwali 2010.”
-Rev. Jeffrey Day, Ecumenical/Interfaith Advisory, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit
"Wishing HAF and all Hindu Americans a joyous festival of Diwali that there will be light in every heart and light throughout the world."
-The Right Rev. Wendell Gibbs, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan, The Rev. Robert Hart, Interfaith Officer and all people of the Diocese of Michigan
"With Blessings to HAF and all Hindu Americans for a joy-filled Festival of Lights, Diwali. May the five day celebration illumine all our paths toward a celebration of life, its enjoyment and goodness."
-The Rev. Dr. Gwynne Guibord, Founder & President, The Guibord Center - Religion Inside Out
"Women's Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach of Metro-detroit extends warm wishes to the Hindu American Foundation and wishes all Hindus  joy and happiness as they celebrate Diwali. We hope the festival of lights enlightens your homes and hearts with peace and serenity...so that we can continue to build bridges of understanding in metro-Detroit and around the world. Happy Diwali!"
-Gail Katz, President, Women's Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach of Metro-detroit (WISDOM)
"Dear Hindu Friends, As in the past, we join you in the celebration of Deepavali, sending you our sincere greetings and congratulations on behalf of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. May God, the Supreme Light illumine your minds, enlighten your hearts and strengthen the human bonds in your homes and communities! We wish you all a joy-filled Deepavali!...Click here to continue reading the full greeting."
-Jean-Louis Cardinal TAURAN, President, Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Vatican City
"Happy Diwali 2010 from Pathways to Peace Foundation to our friends at HAF and all Hindu Americans. May the New Year lift our spirits and bring peace into our world."
-Brenda Naomi Rosenberg, Pathways to Peace Foundation

Introducing American Express' Diwali Gift Card

On October 1, 2010, American Express announced the launch of its Diwali gift card, designed exclusively for the festival.  The gift card can be used to substitute a cash gift and is available in denominations of $25, $50, $100 and $200.  Visit www.americanexpress.com/diwali to purchase your gift card.