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October 21, 2011 > Diwali

Diwali

By Mekala Neelakantan

This Wednesday, October 26, make sure to wish your friends and family a "Happy Diwali" as the Indian Festival of Lights commences its annual celebration. Commonly known as the most popular of festivals in all of South Asia, this five-day celebration is observed by Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs. While specific mythological explanations and significance may vary, Diwali is held to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. Named after the Sanskrit word, Deepavali, meaning "row of lights," Diwali is traditionally associated with the lighting of small lamps, or diyas. These diyas represent good omens as well as celebrate the various legends of Diwali.

The significance of Diwali extends over many different legends and religions. Some celebrate it as the triumph of Lord Rama over the ten-headed demon Ravana. His celebratory coronation upon returning to his city, Ayodhya, is referred to as Diwali. In South India, Diwali is associated with the killing of the demon king Narakasura by Lord Krishna. Upon vanquishing the demon, Krishna proceeded to bathe in scented oils, a tradition of Diwali. In Jainism, Diwali is known as the day on which Mahavira attained Nirvana, and in Sikhism Diwali is a joyful celebration commemorating the return of Guru Hargobind in 1620.

Traditional practices during Diwali include the lighting of fireworks, the purchasing and exchange of new clothes, and the consumption of sweets. As the festival also commemorates the beginning of a new year for many Indians, the festival also honors Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth. Altars are built, and lotus patterns are drawn to worship Goddess Lakshmi and to pray for a successful year.

Most importantly, Diwali is a time to celebrate with family and friends. Practices that have evolved over the years include Diwali parties and get-togethers, as well as other functions in temples and community centers. Regardless, it is a time that is looked forward to by all.

Fremont Hindu Temple
This year, the Fremont Hindu Temple is hosting the Diwali Mela and Cultural program and Dhan Traydoshi, a two-day celebration with games, food stalls, children activities, and more. For booth booking, contact Deepak Chhabra at (510) 299-9771, or email at deepakchhabra@pacbell.net. For participation, contact Vijata Asuri at (510) 421-3535.

Diwali Mela and Cultural Program
Saturday, October 22
11 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Sunday, October 23
11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Dhan Traydoshi
Monday, October 24
Fremont Hindu Temple
3676 Delaware Drive, Fremont
(510) 659-0655
www.fremonttemple.org

Shreemaya Krishnandham Temple and Community Center
This year, the Shreemanya Krishnandham Temple and Community Center asks all to join them in a five-day celebration at their haveli. With large turnouts in the past, this celebration is sure to be a success.

Diwali Celebration
Saturday, October 29
1 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Shreemaya Krishnadham Temple and Community Center
25 Corning Ave., Milpitas
(408) 586-0006
www.bayvp.org

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