What is Diwali? The Festival of Lights: What You Need to Know

Millions of people around the globe will join together on Thursday for the 2021 celebration of Diwali (the "Festival of Lights").

What is Diwali? The Festival of Lights: What You Need to Know

Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Representative from Illinois, called the festival a crucial holiday that allows Americans to "celebrate...the triumph over darkness" in the ongoing COVID pandemic.

Here are some facts about this year's celebration.

What is Diwali?

Krishnamoorthi says that Diwali is a time for thanksgiving, prayer, and health and knowledge for peace.

Sanskirt Deepavali means "row of light", which is how the Old Farmer's Almanac gave Diwali its name. This five-day festival celebrates light triumphing over darkness and good over evil.

The celebration sees adherents lighting oil lamps and placing them around their homes to pray for peace, health, and knowledge.

The festival is celebrated in India, where it originated, as well as other countries around the globe, for five days and occurs at the end the last month on the Hindu lunar calendar.

Accrding to the almanac Diwali falls on the darkest day in the lunar month. This day is also the day when the new moon rises. The new moon this year is Nov. 4, but next year it will fall on Oct. 24.

What happens during the 5-Day Festival?

Diwali is a holiday that originated in India. It lasts for five days, rather than one. According to the almanac, this is how Diwali is celebrated:

Day 1

Indians clean out their homes and make rangoli (which are patterns made of colored rice, sand, or flowers) on the floor.

Day 2

You will spend the day preparing or purchasing special food, especially sweets called mithai. Also, you will pray for your ancestral spirits in afterlife.

Day 3

This is the most important day of Diwali, and Indian families celebrate it with their families by lighting candles and lanterns in their homes, along with fireworks.

Day 4

Many traditions celebrate the bond between husbands and wives on the fourth day. Therefore, spouses will often give each other gifts.

Day 5

This day celebrates the bonds between siblings, particularly between brothers and sister.

Who Celebrates Diwali

Hindus, Sikhs and Jains celebrate the festival annually in the United States.

Many countries, including India and Fiji, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, and Pakistan, observe Diwali.

Is Diwali a National Holiday for the USA?

Not as of 2021.

Krishnamoorthi, however, has agreed to sponsor a piece to make Diwali an American national holiday.

Carolyn Maloney (New York Rep.) introduced the legislation in the House. It would make Diwali the 12th federally recognized holiday in the United States.

Krishnamoorthi stated on social media that "the celebration of the triumph over darkness is especially important during a pandemic."

There are currently 11 federal holidays. The latest, Juneteenth National Independence Day will be added to the calendar in 2021.

Federal law states that holidays that Congress has designated apply to federal institutions as well as the District of Columbia. Federal holidays are observed by banks, schools, and selected companies, although they are not required to do so by law.

Krishnamoorthi introduced earlier this week a resolution "recognizing and valuing the historical and religious significance" of the festival.

He said, "I wish safe and happy Diwali for all families who gather with their loved ones to light lamps in the homes and to pray for peace and good health for all."

Updated Date: 04 November 2021, 14:20

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