Diwali: A Festival of Lights and What It Means for Diversity



Today’s world is becoming increasingly aware of the diversity around us, and the beauty of that is that we become aware of the different cultures and celebrations that exist in the world and in our own backyards. Some of us might not understand why other people celebrate certain holidays or follow certain traditions. Understanding why others celebrate different cultural celebrations is an important way to increase empathy and better understand individuals ideas and values. Plus, acknowledging and appreciating those things that culturally make a person different helps us have a more diverse mindset. Not to mention, it’s fun learning about other celebrations and traditions other than our own.


At TLR Search, we wanted to learn about other cultures and celebrations we were unaware of, we started with Diwali.


We are really excited to have an open discussion about culture, traditions, and celebrations that make people unique and learn something along the way. We're not perfect because we are not involved in what we learned in our research, but these are the things we’ve learned. Hopefully, you can learn something too.


Why do People Celebrate Diwali?


Diwali is one of the most celebrated festivals in India and is a celebration of the triumph of good over evil and the victory of light over darkness. It is a time to remember ancestors, reflect on past mistakes, strengthen the resolve to remain virtuous during the coming year, and give thanks for the bounties of life. The festival marks the end of the harvesting season or autumn and is celebrated as the beginning of the new year in the Hindu calendar. Diwali signifies prosperity, health, and well-being.


It is also known as the festival of lights. The word ‘Diwali’ means ‘rows of lighted lamps’ or ‘rows of lighted wicks’. According to Hindu mythology, this was the time when Lord Rama returned after defeating Ravana and liberating his wife, Sita, from captivity. As a mark of gratitude, people lit up small lamps to signify triumph over evil and darkness.


Firecrackers are the Hallmark of Diwali Celebration


India is well-known for its colorful and vibrant festivals and celebrations. However, people of Indian origin living abroad have adapted their customs and practices to suit their environment and surroundings. That’s the beauty of diversity, it evolves and changes to fit the environments around us but remains the same in principles. While these celebrations happen in other countries, we get to see a glimpse into what these cultural celebrations are like.


A prime example of this is in countries like the United States, where the use of firecrackers is a common practice during Diwali celebrations. However, in countries like Singapore and Thailand, where the use of firecrackers is prohibited, people have come up with innovative ways to celebrate this colorful festival with colorful candles and paper lanterns. The traditional lamps made of clay or mud, back in the day, have given way to electric lights, but the fervor with which the festival is celebrated has remained the same.


What Exactly Does a Diwali Celebration Look Like?


People across the country celebrate Diwali with great zeal and enthusiasm by exchanging sweets and gifts and appreciating the community around them. Homes are beautifully decorated with colors and lights. People also enjoy cultural dancing, programs, and music. Individuals also take part in various cleanliness drives to keep their surroundings clean. During Diwali, people visit temples and pray for their prosperity.


The festival signifies not only the coming together of people of Indian origin but all other communities as well. Traditionally, it is observed that all houses in India are decorated, and the lights are kept burning throughout the night. The people of India use these lights as a symbol to welcome their friends, neighbors, and relatives on this occasion. They exchange sweets and gifts with all their friends and enjoy each other’s company. Diwali is so widely celebrated—it's an important religious festival for Hindus, but is also observed among Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists. The festival is observed with great splendor by people of all religions in India.


Learning from the Diwali Festival: Celebrating Diversity and Inclusion


Diwali becomes a time to appreciate the beauty and cultural significance of traditions followed by people of different regions and religions across India. Any celebrations during this time are a celebration of diversity. It also becomes a time to engage in meaningful discussions with others to understand the importance of their customs and traditions.


Conclusion


Diwali is a festival that celebrates diversity and inclusion. It’s the perfect combination to start this series. It is a festival that celebrates the strength of communities coming together to celebrate their traditions and culture and having a good time doing so. Diwali is a time that shakes off bias and celebrates the strength of coming together and sharing traditions and stories respectfully and lovingly throughout India.


We can learn something from sharing and rejoicing in other people’s cultural celebrations and also sharing our celebrations as well. TLR Search’s hope is that by learning about cultural celebrations, it helps you understand other individuals so you feel closer to the person next to you.