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October 26, 2010 > Diwali - festival of lights

Diwali - festival of lights

By Meenu Gupta
Photos By courtesy of Shashi Desai, Dreamsnaps

Glittering earthen lamps called diyas, dazzling fireworks and sounds of firecrackers announce the arrival of an auspicious and widely celebrated festival of Diwali. Five days of festivities are a celebration of light, both literally and metaphorically: victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. Diwali, from the Sanskrit word "Deepavali," means a garland of lamps, an accurate description for this remarkable Indian festival. Earthen lamps called diyas cast a warm glow while flaming streams of light from fireworks create a kaleidoscope of patterns on the sky's canvas.

Diwali signifies many different things: a celebration of Lord Rama's return to Ayodhya and his coronation as king after the defeat of Ravana; honoring Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Ganesha and in Bengal, Goddess Kali. Jains commemorate Diwali as the day Lord Mahavira, last of the Tirthankaras or saints, attained Nirvana, or liberation. Lighting lamps is explained as a material substitute for the light of holy knowledge that was extinguished with Mahavira's passing. Sikhs celebrate Diwali to express joy at the return of the Sixth Guru, Hargobind, to Amritsar in 1620. Emperor Jahangir had imprisoned him along with 52 Hindu kings. The Guru was granted freedom but refused to leave until the kings were also released.

Gifts are exchanged and festive meals are prepared during this five day festival. It is the traditional time to replenish wardrobes, decorate homes, purchase new items and exchange sweets and savories with friends. New clothes signify the renewal of life.

The festival begins with Dhanteras, a day set aside to worship the goddess of prosperity, Shri Lakshmi. Lustrous Lakshmi is the consort of Vishnu and her statue is found in every home. On the second day Kali, or Shakti, the Goddess of power, is worshipped. On the third day, lamps are lit, shining brightly in every home, symbolizing knowledge. Ceremonial worship, Lakshmi Puja, is performed on this day.

Goddess Lakshmi stands on a lotus. She has lotuses in various stages of bloom in her two hands and wears a lotus garland. Cascades of gold coins flow from her hands, suggesting that those who worship her gain wealth. She always wears gold-embroidered red clothes, as red symbolizes activity and the golden lining indicates prosperity.

Lakshmi is the Goddess of Wealth and Ganesha is the Lord of Happiness. Lakshmi and Ganesha Puja is performed for prosperity, material abundance, and spiritual prosperity. The fourth day of Diwali, also called Vishkarma Day, marks the coronation of the legendary King Vikramaditya. Families celebrate by dressing in new clothes, wearing jewelry and visiting friends and family. On the final day of the festival, Bali, a titanic figure in Indian Mythology, is recalled.


India Community Center, Milpitas

To honor seniors and pay tribute to their experiences India Community Center is hosting a fun-filled festival. The gala event will showcase dazzling Bollywood dance performances by Mona Sampath Dance Company students, lilting music by DJ, dancing, karaoke performance and Children's fashion show and Rangoli competition prize distribution. Enjoy a scrumptious evening of dining and entertainment. Care will be available for children ages for $15 which includes pizza, movie screening and participation in children's program. All proceeds will benefit the ICC Senior Program. Tables for 10 are available for $400, $600 and $1000, ICC members get $50 off a $400 and $600 table. Individual tickets are available for $40, $60 and $100. ICC members get $5 off a $40 and $60 ticket. To purchase tickets, visit www.indiacc.org.

Diwali - A Celebration of Lights
Saturday, November 20
6 p.m. - 11 p.m.
India Community Center
525 Los Coches Street, Milpitas
(408) 934-1130
www.IndiacCC.org




Fremont Hindu Temple

Diwali has been celebrated with great enthusiasm at Fremont Hindu Temple every year. After the successful celebration of Diwali Mela last year ,this year's Diwali Festival and Diwali Mela will feature a cultural program, stalls showcasing jewelry, mehandi, kids corner, games and food stalls. For details about Mela and booking booths please contact Temple Chair Events & Diwali Mela, Deepak Chhabra (510) 299 9771 or write to deepakchhabra@pacbell.net. For details about cultural program contact Chair Cultural Vijaya Aasuri at (510) 421 3535 or email at vijaya_aasuri@yahoo.com. For kids quiz competition and the children's program, please register with Chair Children/Youth Madhu Shahani at (510) 364 2772 or email at madhusunder@yahoo.com.

Dhan Trayodashi / Pradosh
Wednesday, November 3
Diwali Festival
Friday, November 5
Diwali Mela
Saturday, November 6
Cultural Program: 3 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Mela and booths: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Fremont Hindu Temple
3676 Delaware Drive, Fremont
(510) 659-0655
www.fremonttemple.org




Shreemaya Krishnadham

Shreemaya Krishnadham Temple and Community center will celebrate Diwali in the traditional way for five days at the Center in Milpitas. "Young and elders all wearing new traditional clothes, carrying new spirit of Diwali, putting the past behind and starting new, decorated temple and various "Darshan" of God Krishna is an experience to be part of. Last year thousands of people joined the celebrations and enjoyed the festivities at the temple. Everyone is invited with an open heart to be part of the celebrations at temple this year," said Sandip Shah.

Tuesday, November 2 - Sunday, November 7
Shreemaya Krishnadham Temple and Community Center
25 Corning Ave, Milpitas
(408) 586-0006
www.bayvp.org




Friday, October 29
Induz presents "UTSAV" A Festive Season and Diwali Special "Karoke Nite"
7 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.
Swagath Restaurant
4918 Paseo Padre Pkwy, Fremont
www.induz.org
$15 for Adults $7 Kids 5-9 years Under 5 free


Saturday, October 30
Small Steps Diwali Dandia 2010
Centerville Junior High School
37720 Fremont Blvd, Fremont
(510) 449.8530
www.smallstepsfoundation.org
Tickets: Adult - $13, Child (5-12) - $5
At the Gate: Adult - $15, Child (5-12) - $5






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