Diwali begins today. Know as the ‘festival of lights’ billions of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and some Buddhists worldwide are honoring the holiday with a five-day festival celebrating “the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil.”
The holiday is also meant to honor the goddess of wealth and good fortune, Lakshmi. Diwali, which means “row of lights” or “row of clay lamps” is derived from the Sanskrit word dipavali. Typically, families honor Diwali by paying tribute to their ancestors and taking time to worship family gods.
Dates for the festival are based on the Hindu lunar calendar and typically fall between the Hindu months of Asvina and Kartika. As for the celebrations, festivities begin in the home with the lighting of earthen lamps (diyas), along with colorful electric lights and firework displays. Plus, gifts are exchanged.
According to National Geographic, homes will be decorated with lamps and rangolis or designs made on the floor out of colored sand, powder, rice, or petals.
One theme as far as typical food goes, is an emphasis on snacks and sweets, though foods associated with Diwali vary from culture to culture. Desserts are typically milk-based and often include crushed nuts, which traditionally have been seen as a way to show respect and demonstrate wealth.
Celebrations are happening all around the world. Here are a few in the Chicagoland area:
Honor Diwali and Chopda Pujan at a BAPS location
The Pujan (worship ritual) will take place in two sessions starting with session one from 4:45 PM to 5:45 PM and then from 6:15 to 7:15 PM.
Address: BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Chicago 1851 Pramukh Swami Road Bartlett, IL 60103
Learn about the Indian diaspora online through the Art Institute of Chicago
Though Gauri’ Gills works are not currently on view at the museum, you can still experience photos from collections like ‘The Americans’ at the Art Institute of Chicago website.
His work highlights the Indian diaspora across the country in ‘poignant and sympathetic portraits’ taken from 2000-2007.
Support Devon Ave at any of the local stores and restaurants
Show your support at any of the stores and restaurants on what’s colloquially referred to as Chicago’s Little India. The 15-block stretch on Devon Avenue is in West Rogers Park, and begins at Sheridan Road. A Chicago staple since the 1970s, Devon Ave is known by locals as a multiethnic corridor.
Have dinner at the Bigsuchir Restaurant & Banquet this Friday
Enjoy a celebratory dinner and live performances by by Manmeet Kaur, Devendra Gupta and Sheena DwivedEmcee Bharti Desai. Highlighting guests of honor, this dinner hosted by Manoj Rathod and Tanmay Patel will take place in Downers Grove, IL with tickets going for $35.
Address: 1734 Ogden Avenue, Downers Grove, IL 60515
Dance the night away at the Diwali Dandiya Night Festival
Head to the Sullivan Center for a night of music, dancing and live performances to bring in the holiday. Ticket prices start at $8, and $4 for kids. Find out more about the event here. . While the event takes place outside of the city, it’s under an hours drive to get there.
Address: 635 North Aspen Drive, Vernon Hills, IL
While Diwali has recently become a recognized holiday in NY, IL rep Raja Krishnamoorthi has been campaigning since last year to make it a national holiday across the U.S.
[Featured photo via: Unsplash]