Deepavali is just around the corner and Little India is brimming with life with its bazaar, replete with Indian snacks, festive decorations, and henna services.
But what is Deepavali?
It is more than just a grand affair filled with family reunions and good food.
For the non-Indians (and some Indians including me), here are some facts about this Indian festival—and next time you can impress your Indian friend with your worldly knowledge.
1.There are two common names
You might be familiar with the saying— Happy Deepavali but some would say Happy Diwali.
Diwali means a row of lighted lamps in Hindi. The former is the Tamil variation of it.
2. Hindus aren’t the only who celebrates Deepavali
While it’s known as a Hindu festival, it is also celebrated by Jains (Jainism) and Sikhs (Sikhism).
3. The story behind Deepavali
There are many fables as to why people celebrate Deepavali, as India is a pretty huge country. One of the popular beliefs is that it celebrates the demise of a demon, Narakasura by Lord Krishna.
Another belief is that it marks the return of Lord Rama and Sita from exile of 14 years after the defeat of Ravana
4. Lights are the central theme
As you can tell, both beliefs centre around good vs evil or light over darkness—and how good always prevail.
To commemorate those beliefs, families will light up lamps in their house and you can also see the ubiquitous lamp motifs all over Little India.
Apart from placing lighted oil lamps at the entrance of our homes, it is also common to see Rangoli in vibrant hues, using coloured rice flour.
There are many patterns and designs, but my mum just pastes a Rangoli sticker—in her own words: nobody got time to clean it later lah
6. New clothes
It is tradition to don new clothes on this day! Typically men will wear either jippa or kurtha and the ladies will wear a vibrant saree.
Some will just get a new pair of shirt and jeans—like me.
7. Indian feast
With every family visit, you will be welcomed with a glorious feast that will have your heart racing.
Expect dishes like…
Not forgetting saccharine delights like
(A Mountain of) Laddus
8. Sparkle the night away
It isn’t Deepavali without some sparkler action!
When dusk approaches, it is common to see kids and sometimes even adults playing with sparklers.They come in various colours as well.
9. More luck
It is widely believed that gambling during this joyous occasion will bring one’s luck and prosperity.
10. Not a one-day festivity
Indians are known for their elaborate weddings that will span over many days. Same rules apply for Deepavali. The festival lasts for 5 days!