We’ve all heard of it snowing on Christmas, but no one could ever have imagined that we’d have a White Diwali in London this year!
Despite the unusually cold and snowy evening, we’ve had a fantastic few weeks in the run up to the big day. We’ve seen celebrations all over the world. In London, Trafalgar Square was overflowing with people wanting to experience Diwali, temples were packed to the rafters, community halls hosted Diwali parties, and the shops did brisk business, which was a welcome relief in these times.
In India, Diwali is a huge deal. I don’t often state the obvious but unless you visit India during this period, you’ll simply not be able to realise the scale of the festival. India comes to a standstill for five days. Think of Christmas in the West and multiply it 100 times.
Apart from celebrating the return of the Hindu God – Rama to the city of Ayodhya after a period of 14 years in exile in which he defeats the ten headed demon Ravana to recapture his wife – Sita, we also celebrate and worship the Goddess of wealth and prosperity – Lakshmi.
On this day, members of the business community close their previous year’s books of accounts and open the New Year’s accounts by performing a ceremony to worship Goddess Lakshmi, to ask for her blessings for good profits in the forthcoming year.
Those interesed in learning about Indian culture are advised to pick up a copy of the Ramayana or Mahabharata, in which the tales of Hinduism’s two most worshiped incarnations of God are recorded. There are many good versions in English that can be bought on the net.
As is customary during festivals and celebrations, I’ve eaten far too much in the past few days and now need to schedule an extra couple of shifts at the gym!
Happy Diwali and New Year.