Deepavali, also known as Diwali, is the Hindu festival of lights. One of the most popular festivals in Hinduism, it spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. Here in multiracial and multireligious Singapore, Deepavali is a gazetted public holiday, and celebrated every year in autumn.
In preparation for this festival, people clean their homes and decorate them for the upcoming celebrations. New clothes are the order of the day, and devotees also buy gifts for family members and friends which typically include sweets, dry fruits, and seasonal specialities. Parents and elders regale their children with tales of ancient folklore, such as legends about battles between good and evil, or light and dark. The women go shopping and create rangoli (patterns that are created on the floor in living rooms or courtyards using materials such as coloured rice, dry flour, coloured sand or flower petals) and other creative patterns near doors and walkways. Youth and adults alike help with lighting and preparing for fireworks.
During Deepavali, prayers are offered before one or more deities, with most common being Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, and wife of Lord Vishnu. The festival, which lasts five days, begins on the day Lakshmi was born, while the last night is when Lakshmi chose Vishnu as her husband and they were married. Along with Lakshmi, devotees make offerings to deities like Ganesha, Saraswati, and Kubera.
Hindus believe that Deepavali is the day Vishnu came back to Lakshmi and their abode in the Vaikuntha. Thus, those who worship Lakshmi receive the benefit of her good mood, and are therefore blessed with mental, physical, and material well-being during the year ahead. As Lakshmi connotes auspiciousness, wealth and prosperity, Deepavali is a period of much shopping amongst Hindus.
On this Festival of Lights, OOWA would like to wish everyone a very Happy and Blessed Deepavali!
All pictures courtesy of the OOWA team, and were taken with the 15mm and 75mm OOWA lenses.