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The meaning of Diwali

Diwali, or alternatively known as Deepavali, is the Hindu festival of lights celebrated across the states of India. The festival is symbolic for the victory of good over evil. The official day of celebration changes according to the Hindu calendar every year but usually falls between late October to mid November.

This article was written by Hariprasad Mahakali, an international student from India studying a masters program in Music for the Moving Image at Leeds Beckett. He is an avid singer-songwriter and is now focusing his studies into film music composition. 

Diwali, or alternatively known as Deepavali, is the Hindu festival of lights celebrated across the states of India. The festival is symbolic for the victory of good over evil. The official day of celebration changes according to the Hindu calendar every year but usually falls between late October to mid November.

The most popular link to the festival is with the Hindu epic Ramayana, marking the return of the King Rama to the city of Ayodhya along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman, after defeating King Ravana’s army.  Rituals are performed for the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, Lakshmi during this season. Although different regions of the country follow different traditions for the same festival, some of the common activities remain constant across all regions; families buy new clothes, distribute food and sweets and burst fireworks to celebrate the festival. 
 
Rural villages host fairs (“melas”), which is equivalent to food markets in England where visitors can try the locally prepared home cooked food. Diwali is also a very busy period for shopping similar to Thanksgiving, where almost every category of products is on heavy discounts and sale. My favourite part of the festival is when I get to visit distant relatives and reconnect with my cousins and enjoy the home cooked food. Bollywood and regional cinema usually release big budget entertainers on cinemas and television for everyone to get together and watch as a family.  The fireworks are the highlight of the festival when families in an entire street, area come together and burst fireworks in parks and open fields. 
 
Living in the United Kingdom, the meaning of Diwali has not changed much thanks to the presence of the Indian community both within university and outside. Last year, I got to celebrate Diwali and introduce it to many of my International friends through the International Student Society by visiting the local Hindu temple and heading to Hyde Park for a brief run of fireworks. I look forward to celebrating the festival of lights again this year with my new international friends and spread the meaning of the festival – Happiness.  

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