21 Ways to Celebrate Diwali

2014 Oct 22 - by Shriya
Happy Diwali/Deepvali! This time of year is the most auspicious for Hindu communities, as they join together to celebrate an annual reminder that good always triumphs over evil and darkness. Welcoming the spirit of goddess Lakshmi into their homes, Hindus believe that this holiday is the coming of a bright new year of wealth and prosperity if they live good lives.

The BFIW respects all celebrations of this happy holiday - from the religious pujas to the delicious sweets! If you're new to Diwali, observing it away from family for the first time, or just looking for different ways to enjoy the holiday spirit, here are 21 ways you can celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights.

Light some candles

Diwali is aptly named the Festival of Lights - so the perfect way to celebrate is to light up your home with some soft candlelight. Religious observers may use these candles to decorate their deity idols on a mantelpiece, but simply adding some light to your home this holiday will get you into the celebratory spirit.

Enjoy some sweets

Diwali sweets are known for their extra sugary, ghee-filled deliciousness. Whip some up if possible, or hit up your local Indian grocery store to pick up some mithai. Diwali is a happy occasion, and Indians love to commemorate such events with sweets.

Treat yourself with a new, important purchase

As an auspicious holiday, Diwali is considered a lucky time to invest in a large purchase such as a car or a house. If you've been thinking about spending big on something for a while, Diwali is the most blessed holiday in Hindu culture to go for it!

Organize a puja

Since Diwali has its religious roots in Goddess Lakshmi and the battle between good and evil, Hindus tend to host a puja in their homes to pray and pay respects to their gods. Setting up a puja can be complicated, but you can simply take this time to arrange your idol pieces prettily on a mantelpiece and pray to them. Taking on the planning and complexities of finding a pundit and cooking religious prasad (offerings)  is an extra way to get into the spirit.

Appreciate your husband/wife (Diwali Padva)

Diwali Padva is a holiday observed during Diwali-time where spouses take extra care to appreciate each other. After all the daily hassle of managing a home, taking care of kids/family members, and work/life routines, it can be tough to sit back and be grateful for all your spouse does for you. Take this holiday as a reminder to tell your significant other how important they are to you - the religious prayers and gift-giving is only optional.

Appreciate your sibling (Bhau beej)

Brothers and sisters also have a unique opportunity to bond during Diwali. Bhau bheej is a holiday where the sister shows her brother how much she cares for him by waving a holy fire around him. In return, the brother promises to take care of and protect his dear sister. It's a sweet occasion which shouldn't be taken for granted.

Host a party

Diwali is, after all, about celebrating - and what better way to do so than to invite family and friends over for food and fun? Diwali parties are common, even in informal terms. Families take turns hosting dinners and invite guests over to play games and light some firecrackers, if possible. Turn the holiday into a reason for a party - as if you needed one!

Make some sweets

Treat yourself and your family to some delicious, homemade Diwali mithai. We've made mango burfi, a light and healthy saffron burfi, diwali spice cookies, and ragi gur papdi for you to get your culinary action on.

Buy some new clothes

Traditionally, Diwali was the time of year when the majority of India's population, rural farmers, would see their crops come into harvest. After selling their crops to the market, the farmers had a large sum of money to spend on their families. Therefore, this was the time of year when new clothes were often purchased - and this tradition continues today. Modern versions of this tradition still encourage Hindu families to buy new clothes for Diwali, and Westernized holidays such as Thanksgiving give way to Black Friday for even more excuses for shopping.

Clean/Redecorate your home

In order to welcome Hindu goddess Lakshmi and other religious prosperities into your home, it is believed that the home must be thoroughly cleaned and presentable. During Diwali, families often clean or redecorate their home to make it a more welcoming environment for the auspicious goddess.

Pay respects to goddess Lakshmi with a Diwali display

As a tribute to Lakshmi, you can arrange a beautiful Diwali display of flowers, candles, rangoli, and other artistic elements to prepare for her welcome. Hindus tend to leave out a plate of sweets and snacks for her as well, much like one would do for Santa Clause. Diwali is appropriately an occasion to be grateful for the wealth and prosperity in your life, so it's often a time to thank goddess Lakshmi for this fortunes with a carefully decorated Diwali display.

Wear bright colors

To be fair, Indian clothes tend to be colorful and jazzy by nature, but Diwali is an extra-special occasion. When visiting friends, relatives, or attending a Diwali party or puja, Hindus tend to wear their finest Indian outfits and jewelry. In order to celebrate the happy holiday, observers like to dress up in similarly bright colors to liven spirits even more.

Eat a hearty meal

Food is a focal point of Hindu tradition, so it's expected that Diwali is a time to enjoy the best of Indian cuisine as well. Since farmers would reap harvest around Diwali in rural India, the festival also marked a time when families could buy foods they otherwise couldn't enjoy - such as mithai and heavier dishes that fit into their diets. Diwali calls for fancy spices such as saffron and elaborate foods such as puris and meats. However it suits your lifestyle, make the most of Diwali by enjoying some of your favorite foods with your family and friends.

Exchange gifts

Diwali isn't like Christmas, and gifts aren't part of the tradition - but since it is a happy occasion, many Hindu families choose to partake in gift-giving as well. Whether its new clothes or homemade sweets, observers of the holiday often present their loved ones with a token of their affection.

Light some fireworks (safely!)

If it's legal in your area and safe to do so, fireworks are the ultimate way to celebrate The Festival of Lights. In India, Diwali is a national holiday - so children are freed from school to enjoy the bursting of bright colors and unique shapes across a night sky. Indian grocery stores might sell you some low-key firecrackers, or you can go to a party store and buy the easier-to-handle "popper" to add some flying confetti to your celebrations.

Draw rangoli

In the process of welcoming goddess Lakshmi into homes, Hindus also enjoy decorating their doorsteps and outdoor areas with beautiful, hand-drawn rangoli designs. These designs feature Indian motifs such as peacocks, deities, and flowers. With bright colors and a variety of chalky tools, you too can embrace your artsy side with a rangoli pattern as simple or as complex as you like. Don't forget to add some candles to your work for extra flair!

Commit to new goals

As the "Indian New Year," Diwali is a fresh start for everyone - whether it is a rural farmer coming into his annual salary, or a modern citizen hoping to start a new diet. Just like you would on New Years' Eve, set aside some goals for yourself this holiday and use the auspicious blessings of the season to motivate you into seeing them through.

Be grateful for what you have

As distracting as the food, mithai, colorful rangoli, and material goods may be, Diwali is not about acquiring new things. The holiday is about appreciating whatever wealth and prosperity you already have in your life and being grateful that you have enough to live a happy life. Despite hardships and losses, Diwali is a time to reflect on how fortunate you are and how to use your current fortunes to reap new ones.

Try out a new hobby

A new year isn't just a time for personal improvements, it's also a great time to have some fun too! Engage in a new hobby or pastime that you've always considered but never put aside time for. The auspicious nature of Diwali encourages you to try new activities with extra luck behind you - not to mention the support of your family and friends who are celebrating nearby.

Celebrate life

No matter how you choose to celebrate Diwali, the holiday is ultimately a celebration of life itself. A reminder that there is always good in this world, Diwali is an occasion to both be grateful for what you have and strive for more. Appreciate your life in this happy time and make sure to spread the love, too!

Send {Paper} Greeting Cards

Well, it might be too late to send some lovely, paper greeting cards, so get yours now to be ready for next year. Ananya Cards and Fine Stationary have a great collection. Who wouldn't want a real card arriving in the post?!

All of us here at the BFIW wish you a very happy and wonderful Diwali and New Year!