Upper School students celebrate Diwali


by Aneesha Kumar, Reporter

Flickering flames in intricately painted oil lamps light up people’s houses and yards as they celebrate Diwali. Lights shine brilliantly all around the world on Wednesday and Thursday as Indian families everywhere celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights.

Diwali marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year. During the festival, some families and friends conduct a religious ceremony, called a puja, to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Following the puja, Hindus light lamps, called diyas, and enjoy elaborate meals followed by special desserts with family and friends.

There are many variations in how people recognize Diwali, so the way it is celebrated differs between families. Ayush Alag (9) and his family have a relatively simple way of honoring Diwali.

“We just do a religious prayer, and we lit a candle, not much actually,” Ayush said.

Others attend large social events and have a less religious view of the festival. Instead of pujas or going to the temple, they honor Diwali by enjoying time with friends.

“We usually have parties every year over the weekend where we do firecrackers and everyone just gets together and eats sweets,” Akshaya Vemuri (10) said.

Certain families have detailed festivities involving several different Indian customs, and have both social and religious aspects to their celebrations.These rituals are more traditional for North Indians to part take in.

“We light the diyas and we put them all around the house, we have family over, we do the firecrackers, we go to the temple, we eat a lot of sweets and we give each other gifts,” Payal Patel (11) said.

Even though Diwali is celebrated a different way by each family, it’s significance remains the same to the Indian community.

Diwali is a major festival to a large number of people, and President Barack Obama delivered a speech talking about it’s significance to those who participate in it while wishing everyone a Happy Diwali.

“Diwali– the festival of lights. When members of some of the world’s greatest faiths celebrate the triumph of good over evil,”Obama said.“This coming Saturday, Hindus, Sikhs, and some Buddhists here in America and around the world will celebrate this holiday by lighting diyas, or lamps which symbolize the victory of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.”

Obama concluded his speech by saying, “I am happy to light the White House Diya and wish you all a Happy Diwali and a Saal Mubarak.