Festival of Lights

Triumph of good over evil

Millions of Hindus all over the world celebrate the festival of Deepavalli, also known as the Festival of lights (Deepam means light) every year. The festival usually occurs in the mid October to November period. This year, Deepavalli falls on November 5.

Traditionally, Deepavalli is celebrated with the lighting of hundreds of small earthen lamps which are then used to decorate houses, window sills, and balconies, giving the night a very bright and colorful look. Sri Lankan Hindus however, while celebrating Deepavalli, do not generally light lamps as in the Indian tradition. They do this for the later festival of Karthika Deepam, which will fall later in the month.

According to Hindu mythology, an evil demon called Narakasura, who had long been causing a lot of trouble to the people, was finally killed by God Krishna on this day. Thus Deepavalli signifies the triumph of good over evil, which is why it is celebrated with a lot of light; the lights symbolically depict the riddance of darkness or evil, and the ushering in of a new age of happiness and light.

It is therefore a day of great festivity for the Hindus. They celebrate by wearing new attire on this day, going to the temple and visiting friends and family in the evenings, where the mothers have made various sweets and snacks at home to celebrate as well as give the guests. Special designs called kolams are also drawn with rice flour by mothers and sisters at the house entrances.

They not only serve as intricate and lovely designs to look at, beautify the entrance and welcome the guests, but also serve as food for ants and other insects, which is why they are drawn with rice flour.

Hospitality is thus extended to even the smallest and most humble of guests.

Children as well as adults indulge in bursting firecrackers of various shapes and sizes, to signify their jubilation. Deepavalli is the celebration of a people who have long been suppressed by an evil demon and who have at long last been released from his terrible power. Darkness had been vanquished, light and joy have again come into the world. And so, the entire mood of the day is one of jubilation and celebration.

-Thulasi Muttulingam

~ by පොත් ගුල on November 2, 2010.

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