At The Little Market, we are proud to celebrate cultural diversity. Our community of supporters, including customers, readers, our team, and the artisans we work with, are from all over the world. We value inclusivity, and we currently work with more than 65 artisan groups in over 25 countries. On this blog, Cultural Exchange, we love to explore different cultural traditions and holidays recognized across the globe. Today, we focus on Diwali.
Diwali (also known as Deepavali or Divali), one of India’s biggest festivals of the year, is the festival of lights and represents the victory of good over evil. The name Diwali originates from the row (avali) of clay lamps (deepa) placed outside of homes and public areas. The holiday is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Newar Buddhists throughout the world.
On the night of the new moon, the row of lights is lit to invite in Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and for the Bengal region, the goddess Kali. Based on the region, the story behind the holiday has different meanings. In Northern India, the community recognizes the return of Rama to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile and defeating Ravana by lighting the row of lamps, along with other deities including Sita, Lakshmana, and Hanuman returning. In Southern India, the community recognizes Lord Krishna’s victory over the demon Narakasura. In Western India, the community recognizes the day Lord Vishnu sent the demon King Bali to rule over the nether world.
Jains observing the festival recognize the spiritual awakening of Lord Mahavira. Sikhs who are observing Diwali recognize it as the day the sixth Sikh guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, was freed after being imprisoned.
In celebration of Diwali, observers will light fireworks and candles, decorate with rangoli patterns using rice or powder, open doors and windows to welcome the goddess Lakshmi, bake sweets, and clean their homes to create a welcoming atmosphere.
To those of you who are celebrating, we wish you a very Happy Diwali!