Spotlight on Diwali


By the time mid-November rolls around, most students are thinking of Thanksgiving dinner and the prospect of holiday decorations. They turn on the Christmas music, get out their dradles and prepare for America’s cultural holidays. Hindu and Sikh students, however, are celebrating a different kind of holiday. Junior Jassi Kaur is making a lantern out of dough and filling her house with cheer for Diwali, the Festival of Lights.

“It’s a really happy day. It’s tradition, and it is one of the most important festivals of the year,” Kaur said.

Diwali is celebrated by members of Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism all around the world today. The day the celebration falls depends on the Hindu calendar, but it is often in mid-November. The purpose of Diwali differs for each religion, but in every context it is called the Festival of Lights. Kaur said Diwali can also be pronounced as deepavali, which means ‘row of lamps.’ She said this is why lamps and lanterns are often made and used to decorate the home.

Nami and Adi Srikanth, tenth grade Hindu siblings, said that they decorate their house with candles, but more often they focus on the parties of Diwali.

“We go to friends’ houses and set off fireworks. There’s a ton of food, and it’s a good chance to reconnect with friends and family,” Adi said.

He and Nami both said they celebrate Diwali to continue the tradition their parents had when they were children. They said they are keeping tradition alive like all of their ancestors have.

Kaur said, as a Sikh, she goes to her temple for Diwali to pray and sing hymns about the remembrance of the occasion. She said it connects to her family when she makes lamps at home.

“The light of the lamps is important. You don’t want a day like that to be dull. It’s special. We’re never quiet on that day,” Kaur said.

She also noted her family says to never upset someone on Diwali, because it is a joy-filled holiday.

All three students said Diwali is important for them because it is a time for family and reflection. They said they use it to reflect on what they’ve done recently and learn to change it for the better.