Reading

Recommended Enrichment Reading: Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Diwali, by Deborah Heiligman. The beautiful presentation of photographs allow you to escape into the colors and smells of Diwalli as if you were there. The balance of historical perspective with contemporary cultural significance allows the holiday to sparkle as you read along. Diwali focuses on the Hindu celebration in India but mentions observance by the Sikh and Jain faiths and also shows customs in four other countries. Shubh Diwali!

Project

Recommended Quilting Project: Shining Stars, this glittering 81" x 94" quilt looks complex, but is easily pieced from half-square triangles. Pattern has Lydia Quigley's directions. Surely, this will light up any celebration!

Celebration: Festival of Lights

By Sadhana and Anushka Shenoy

Diwali, the ‘Festival of Lights’, is an ancient Indian festival that was first celebrated to honor Lord Rama’s victory over the evil king Ravana. After rescuing his wife Sita (from King Ravana), he returned triumphantly to his kingdom, where his subjects greeted him with celebratory ‘deeps’, or lamps. The tradition continues still, and over time Diwali became a favorite Hindu holiday. Today, people all over the world come together to honor the victorious Lord Rama. Diwali has come to signify the renewal of life, and accordingly it is common to wear new clothes on the day of the festival; similarly, it heralds the approach of winter and the beginning of the sowing season.

Traditionally, Diwali is observed over four days. On the first day, we honor Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth. For many businessmen this day is the start of the fiscal year. The second day is called choti (little Diwali). The third day of Diwali is Padva, the last day of the lunar calendar. Lamps are lit on this day to symbolize knowledge and the end of ignorance. The fourth and final day of Diwali Festival is known by the name of "Bhaiya-Dooj"; this day is observed as a symbol of love between brothers and sisters.

Here in America, the Indian community gathers together every year to celebrate Diwali. We all dress up in our Indian finery, enjoy homemade Indian sweets, and perform a ‘pooja’: a prayer sung to Lord Ganesh. The kids make colorful paper lanterns to decorate the house and create beautiful pictures made with colored rice on the floor at the entrances to their homes. We burst firecrackers (saved from our Fourth of July celebrations); it is a time for joy and festivities.

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