Diwali, the Festival of Lights and the most popular and joyful of Hindu holidays, begins in the United States on Saturday, Oct. 29.
- While “Happy Diwali and a prosperous new year” is a perfectly acceptable way to acknowledge the most festive of Hindu holidays — a five-day festival of lights that celebrates the victory of good over evil and enlightenment over ignorance — don’t just go around saying it to anyone that appears to be of South Asian descent.
- The festival extends over a five-day period, but the holiest night is the evening of the second day which occurs when the new moon is darkest during the Hindu lunar month of Kartika. This year, the first day of Diwali, which means row of lights, begins on Oct. 30 in India and the 29th in the U.S.
- Diwali is also observed by Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists.
- In Hindu mythology, the story is that Lord Rama and his wife, Sita, were exiled by his father, King Ayodha, for 14 years. When Lord Rama returned to his homeland and vanquished an educated but evil demon, the people welcomed him by lighting rows of clay lamps.
- In addition to lighting small lamps, other traditional observations include cleaning homes thoroughly, painting designs, or Rangoli, on the floor with crushed and colored rice, sand or chalk, preparing a mountain of vegetarian food to offer the deities, buying new clothes and something beautiful for the house, exchanging sweets, visiting siblings and lighting fireworks.
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Here are a few Diwali celebrations happening in the Seattle area: A free celebration that begins with the Goverdhan puja feast, at 11 a.m on Sunday, Oct. 30, is among several days of events scheduled at the Sanatan Dharma Temple & Cultural Center, 25748 101st Ave SE in Kent.
On Saturday, Nov. 5, the Seattle Art Museum, is hosting a Celebrate Diwali event at the Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park where visitors can create their own votive candle holder, enjoy a dance performance, see a fashion show, and listen to traditional Indian music. The event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., is free, but the museum asks that people reserve their ticket.
On Sunday, Nov. 6, the Seattle Center is hosting a Festival of Lights event that begins at noon in the Armory Main Floor at 305 Harrison St. and showcases the arts and culture of India. The indoor festival is free for the public and suitable for all ages. It will feature internationally-known artists, Indian dance lessons, a henna booth, puppet show, face painting, Indian chai and food from many regions of India.
And for something completely different, how about trying Diwaloween. This hybrid of Halloween, Diwali and Bollywood at 9 p.m. Oct. 29, Saturday at The Crocodile, 2200 2nd Ave, has been running for 13 years. Hosted by DJ Aanshul, DJ Kapil and DJ Tamm, the $18, 21-and-over event features candy, music and prizes for the best costume or Indian attire.
For more information on local activities, see the website of the Seattle Indian community.