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How to celebrate a Healthy and Safe Diwali/ Deepavali

Diwali is a festival of five days held to mark the triumph of good over evil. It is observed each year at a time during mid-October to mid-November in many countries like India, Singapore, Malaysia and Nepal, or where large Hindu communities such as Canada, Britain and New Zealand live.

[ READ MORE : What is Deepavali ]

Diwali lights, Cambridge, MA

Just as Christians believe that Christmas is an important and special holiday, Diwali is a festival that is very important for Hindus. Apart from Hinduism, other religions that celebrate this festival are Buddhism, Jainism and sikihism. Regardless of your religion, you can join the party of the “Festival of Lights”.

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14 Ways to Celebrate Diwali

1. Know what is Diwali.

Diwali is also known as Deepavali.”deep” means “light”  and “Avali” means “row”. This “row of lights” is represented by bright lights at all places during Diwali. There are several reasons behind the celebration of Diwali Diwali is a 3 to 5 days of celebrations (the duration depends on where you come from or how your holiday traditions are)

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The thirteenth day of Poornima (full moon) (Dhanatrayodashi or Dhanteras) is the first day of Diwali. “Dhan” means “prosperity” and “Teras” means “thirteenth day.” This is the day to celebrate and worship the goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity. In some places in India, lamps are kept burning for Yamaraj god, the god of death.

Hindus believe that the fourteenth day (Chhoti Diwali or Narak Chaturdashi)  is the day in which the lord Krishna destroyed the demon Narakasur. Usually this day they burn firecrackers.

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The new moon day (Diwali, Lakshmi puja, Lakshmipujan) ie. the dark fort-night of Ashvin is the actual day of Diwali and the most significant. If you have not cleaned your house, you should do it early that day to welcome the goddess Lakshmi. On this day people exchange gifts and sweets to strengthen the bonds of love between family and friends. After dinner they burn firecrackers .

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The first day of the bright fortnight of Kartik (Balipratipada, Padiwa, Goverdhan puja, Varshapratipada) is the day when Lord Krishna lifted Govardhan Parvat to protect the people of Gokul from the wrath of Indra and King Vikramaditya was crowned.

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On the last and fifth day of Deepavali festival (Bhai Dooj, Bhaiya Dooj), the brothers and the sisters renew brotherly love.The sisters put sacred red tilak at their brothers foreheads and pray for their long life, while the brothers bless their sisters and give them gifts of love.

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2. Go shopping.

It is customary to buy utensils and ornaments on the first day of Diwali.Shops,Malls and e-commerce stores all come up with offers and discounts for shopping at deepavali in order to improve business.

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3. Thoroughly clean the house and business facilities before the first day of Diwali or Dhanteras.

Clean your rooms and arrange all your papers at your home as well as business. It is like a spring cleaning ritual. “Cleansing” means to get rid of any unnecessary element that is in your environment in order to invite godess Laxmi.

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Draw small footprints in your home with rice flour and vermilion powder. This is a way of indicating that you expect the arrival of the goddess.

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4. Make the entrance to your home or business attractive and beautiful using traditional motifs colorful designs and rangoli .

These include bells, flower garlands, hanging on the walls, mirrors, LED lights, etc. This is a cheerful way to welcome the goddess of health and prosperity. You can find many rangoli designs with a simple Internet search.

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5. Try to make different types of rangoli.

Some prefabricated rangoli is also available. These are beautiful, handmade and painted in light wood pieces. There are countless ways to fix them , so just follow your creativity and make your own.

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6. Turn on the lights every night during the festival.

In the afternoon, light small oil lamps (called “diyas”) and place them around your house. Turn on all the lights and light some candles. The lamps symbolize knowledge or own inner light, which gives us inner peace and the will to fight with every trace of darkness and ignorance.

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7. Light firecrackers and fireworks.

This is a common part of Diwali, used to ward off evil around you. Usually they are used in large amounts on the actual day of Diwali (the third day).Although crackers ought to be avoided since they pollute the environment and are a major cause of global warming but still such traditions are followed from a long time.

diwaliIf you’re going to blow your own firecrackers , be careful and follow all safety precautions associated with their use.

Beware of noisy firecrackers.

Be sure to keep pets and small children at home and away from the excitement and terrifying noises.

8. Use new clothes and jewellery on the second and third day.

If you are a woman, try to get a sari, the traditional dress in India for women. Indians also wear a blouse and a top.

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Men normaly use kurthas, the traditional clothing of Indian men. Kurtha is a tunic to knee height (usually
embroidered) of silk or cotton pants combined.

9. Bake sweets, candies and snacks.

These are traditional offerings for Diwali and are given as gifts. Some ideas are:

  • Burfi

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  • Kulfi

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  • Rasgullas

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  • Jalebi

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  • Carrot Halwa

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10. Go Vegetarian

For many people in India, Diwali is a holiday without meat. There is no fixed recipe for deepavali, so the options may vary, but it is important to include sweets, because Diwali is sweet .

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11. Perform Lakshmi Pooja.

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This is a ritual performed on the third day of Diwali to seek divine blessings of the goddess of prosperity, Lakshmi, who helps those, who struggle to achieve prosperity. It consists of a ritual made using grains, leaves, coins and idols to prepare a ceremony. During this ritual, you can invoke the goddess by reciting the Vedic mantras or think about her being bathed with golden coins with two elephants standing one on each side of it while singing your name. Offerings are made and end of aarti is done quietly. An atmosphere of peace must accompanied during the entire ritual.

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12. Participates in games.

The games make up much of the festival of Diwali, including card games, rummy, charades , passes , musical chairs, treasure hunt , hide and seek , etc. It ‘s not just for kids, it’s for everyone!

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There’s nothing wrong with playing for money on card games, but do not bet too much.

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13. Take care of your younger brother/sister.

The brothers and sisters affirm their fraternal love and care for each other on the last day of Diwali.These activities may include Cooking for your brother, giving gifts to your sister and telling her you want a long lifetime for her,etc

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14. Join public celebrations of Diwali.

Those who do not practice Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism or sikihism, you can join Diwali celebrations which are held in many public spaces. For example, in New Zealand’s capital Wellington, Auckland City and several cities they have public festivals of Diwali in which everyone can participate.  Go and look, join the fun and celebrate with others.

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Attend public concerts, parties, holiday events and festivals for Diwali.

Stuff You Should Know About Diwali

There are many names to describe this festival: Diwali, Divali, Devali, Deepavali. It depends on where the celebration takes place and your place of origin. In most English-speaking countries with Indian communities it is known as Diwali.

Diwali means “renewal of life” and therefore starting a new project or business on diwali is considered promising
and auspicious.

Diwali is widely accepted. In 1999,  Pope John Paul II marked with a tilak on his forehead, held a special Mass in a church in India on an altar decorated with Diwali lamps. His speech referred diwali as the festival of lights.

The legend behind betting on Diwali is that goddess Parvati played dice with her husband Lord Shiva, and declared that whoever bet on Diwali night would prosper throughout the following year.

  • In North India, people celebrate the return of Rama to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana and Rama’s coronation as king.

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  • In Gujarat, people worship Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity. It is believed that Lakshmi, the goddess benevolent, brings prosperity the next year if she visits your house.The Lamps are means to draw her to your house.

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  • In Bengal, diwali is celebrated for honoring Kali, the goddess of time.

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Warnings

  • A responsible adult should watch children who burst firecrackers.
  • Do not place diyas in areas where it could start a fire or where children or pets could face it or get knocked over.
  • Some places, regions, states and cities do not allow the use of firecrackers because they are considered illegal. Check it before buying.
  • The stakes are just for fun, you should never bet all your money.

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Things You’ll Need for a beautiful and happy Diwali

  • Diyas (lamps): Oil lamps can be made by pouring a small amount of oil (cooking oil may be) and then rolling up half a cotton ball to make it look like a long noodle. This thread is soaked in oil and then burnt.

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  • Elements of Rangoli

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  • Firecrackers

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  • New Clothes and Jewellery
  • Gifts
  • Sweets

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