A Diwali Celebration

By Claire Lehman-Schletewitz

Diwali is a Hindu festival of lights, held from October to November. It is particularly associated with Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, and marks the beginning of the fiscal year in India. This holiday is celebrated through the lighting of oil lamps, or Diya, other home decorations, shopping, fireworks, prayer to various gods, gifts, and feasts. The feasts include: extended family members or an entire village cooking food together and lighting lamps.

Different locations in India celebrate it for different reasons. For example, people in Northern India celebrate the story of King Rama’s return to Ayodhya after he defeated Ravana by lighting rows of clay lamps. People from southern India celebrate it as the day that Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura.

In the United States, Diwali is celebrated all over the country, and many Indian stores and shops close on the designated celebration day every year, though it is not considered to be a national holiday. Southern California, known for its diverse population, holds a large Diwali Celebration every year.  Winona Lake celebrates this holiday in the beginning of November in the Heritage Room down in the village. The Indian community of Winona Lake and Warsaw gathers together to light oil lamps and bring the food of their family’s country. Grace College students attend this event every year in hopes of making connection with those in the community outside of the college and to experience the traditions of a different culture.

Image above taken from the blog of Punita Rice, founder of Improving South Asian American Students’ Experiences (ISAASE).