Diwali - what this festival is

2016-10-26 06:00
 Rangoli is an art form from India in which patterns are created on the floor in living rooms or courtyards using materials such as colored rice, dry flour, colored sand or flower petals.

Rangoli is an art form from India in which patterns are created on the floor in living rooms or courtyards using materials such as colored rice, dry flour, colored sand or flower petals.

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DIWALI will be celebrated in South Africa on 30 October. In India it can be celebrated over five days. On the first evening a single lamp is lit for Yama, the angel of death and an image of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and fortune, is washed in milk.

On the second day, after a specially prepared breakfast, the story of how Krishna killed the demon Naraksur, who had captured the young princess, is celebrated.

The third day is the day on which Lakshmi, the wife of Vishnu, one of the three main gods of Hinduism and protector of the universe, is worshipped.
Divas (clay lamps) are lit and placed throughout the home to welcome the goddess, who will bring them good luck in the year to come. Also to welcome Lakshmi Rangolis patterns are drawn on the doorsteps of the home – these are colourful patterns using coloured chalk, sand, rice or flour, and in the centre there is often a lotus flower a symbol of Lakshmi

The fourth day is a day for new beginnings - the start of the new year. The story of Lord Vishnu is told of how he appeared on earth in the form of a dwarf to defeat the wicked king Bali.

On the last day, brothers visit their sister’s homes where they are treated to a meal, in return the brother promises to look after his sister.

Diwali gets its name from Deepavali – rows of lights. Traditionally the small clay lamps, filled with oil are lit and placed in and around the houses – they illustrate how good chases evil away just as the light drives away darkness. This aspect is highlighted in the story of Rama and his wife Sita as told in the Ramayana, one of the most sacred of all Hindu texts.

Long ago Prince Rama was heir to his father’s throne, but his stepmother wanted her son to be king instead. So Rama and Sita were sent to live in the forest for 14 years. One day Sita was captured by Ravana, the evil 10-headed demon king who carried her off to his palace on the island of Lanka.
The distraught Rama called on his friend, Hanuman, the monkey general and with a huge army of bears and monkeys and they set off to rescue Sita. A fierce battle took place, but eventually Rama killed the demon king with a golden bow and arrow – a gift from the gods. Rama and Sita returned home and were welcomed by the people who lit their way home with the clay lamps.

Diwali is a happy festival as family and friends welcome a new year and a time for new beginnings.

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