Deepavali, the Hindu festival of lights, will be celebrated on 6th of November this year. The festival is also called Diwali by people from north of India. It symbolises the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. It is celebrated every autumn and is one of the most popular Hindu festivals. Celebrants prepare for this exciting festival by cleaning up and decorating their homes, prepare many sweet treats, shower gifts to family members and enjoy family feasts. On the day of Deepavali, Hindus start the day before sunrise, apply spiced oil on their body and take hot water bath and carry out religious rituals wearing new clothes. They seek blessings from elders, burn firecrackers (this is practised widely in India although restricted in Singapore) and visit temples for prayers. They also light clay oil lamps and adorn doorways with green mango leaves.
Deepavali festival is based on a story from Indian mythology. Naraka, an asura (asuras are powerful superhuman demigods with good or bad qualities) and an invincible warrior, was tasked to do good but, drunk with power and greed, misused his gifted powers to do evil to humans. He strayed from his purpose, till Krishna, incarnation of Lord Vishnu, killed him to save humans and uphold dharma (righteousness). in his dying moments, Naraka realised his mistakes and expressed the desire that humans celebrate his death with colourful lights, signifying lifting of darkness in the world that prevailed during his reign.
If you’ve had the chance to visit Little India, you would have seen the colourful peacock decorations, variety of deepam (lights), ornaments adorning the road and shops. If you are interested in taking part in some of the festivities, head down to Little India on Deepavali. The markets will be full of fresh flowers with people wearing new clothes busy visiting temples and exchanging greetings. Don’t miss looking for the colourful “rangoli” designs drawn on floors using dyed rice flour. You may be lucky to get beautiful designs drawn on your palms and hands (a kind of tattoo!) using henna, a dye made from the henna tree. The Deepavali Festival Village on Hastings Road may be an exciting place to soak in the atmosphere and taste the festival fare.
We wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous Deepavali!