Intro: As we think about the Western holiday season and its obsession with consumption, capitalism, and production, Diwali is a nice precursor to this by focusing on intimate time with family, and food. Diwali occurs in November, but there is always time to celebrate the triumph of goodness over dark, especially heading into the New Year.
Story by our guest writer Sami Godlove
Each year, families all across India travel back to their hometowns and native villages to celebrate Diwali, the most significant of Hindu holidays. Diwali is known as the “festival of lights” and signifies the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil.
The celebrations start early in the week by decorating their homes with lights and exchanging gifts, usually delicious and sugary Indian sweets, to family and friends. At night, families gather to make candle-lit prayers and offerings to Vishnu and Lakshmi—the goddess of wealth and prosperity. For the main event, falling on the 7th of November this year, worshippers don their best clothing—men in slacks and button-up shirts and women in colorful traditional sarees—before making their way to their home villages, where a large communal feast is enjoyed by all. By evening, hundreds of fireworks are set off, saturating the dark sky with light and sound deep into the night.
I was generously invited to a celebration in a small village outside Karnal, in the northern Indian state of Haryana. These photos portray just a portion of the Diwali celebrations, which last for five days.