Diwali or Deepavali meaning “rows of lights” also known by festival of light is one of the most important and popular festivals for Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists across the globe and is celebrated every autumn. Diwali symbolises that ultimately good will triumph over evil, hope over despair and light over darkness. 

Diwali festival for Hindus is a celebration in honour of Lord Rama when he came back with his wife Sita and his Brother Lakshman from the 14 years exile after killing demonic king Ravana. To show the way back lamps were lit along the route. 

The theme of the festival is derived from the epic Ramayana, one of the largest ancient epics in world literature. In Hindu tradition, it is considered to be the adi-kavya (first poem). It depicts the duties of relationships, portraying ideal characters like the ideal father, the ideal servant, the ideal brother, the ideal husband and the ideal king. 

Other Dharmic faiths in India also celebrate their respective festivals alongside Diwali. The Jains observe their own Diwali, which marks the final liberation of Mahavira, the Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas to mark the release of Guru Hargobind from a Mughal Empire prison, while Newar Buddhists celebrate Diwali by worshiping Lakshmi. 

During the celebration people visit their friends and relatives, and exchange gifts. Divaas are lit (lamps in earthen ware pots), offer puja (prayers) to Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, light fireworks, family feasts are enjoyed, where mithai (sweets) are shared. Homes are adorned with rangoli patterns. 

The festival of Diwali is an official holiday in Fiji, Guyana, India, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica. 

During this most joyful occasion our thought and prayers are with poor, homeless and the underprivileged of the world and also those who are affected by conflict and by natural disasters. 

The Diwali message is one of hope and peace. Hope that people of all faiths will respect one another and for all to live in peace and harmony

Have a safe and enjoyable Diwali.

The BAME Network