Celebrate Diwali Festival in the United States
The Diwali festival is a festival of Hindu origins, but it is celebrated all over the world every year. Diwali goes by several names, including Dīvali, Dīpāwali, Deepavali, and Deepawali; the latter translates to ‘a cluster of lights’ or ‘rows of clay lamps’ (known as diyas). is the Hindu festival of lights, and it goes on for four days.
Many Indian traditions are celebrated at Diwali, one of which is the application of henna Mehndi art. This ancient tradition fits perfectly with the colorful, vibrant beauty and spiritual significance that Diwali is known for.
Diwali is a big deal in the United States – countless towns and cities participate in this festival. Diwali is an opportunity for Hindus to celebrate one of the largest festivals of the year, but you don’t need to be a Hindu to participate in the festival. It is commonplace for people from all walks of life to join in the fun, coming together to celebrate India’s cultural traditions.
Diwali date changes each year
The date of Diwali is calculated primarily around the moon; the precise date and time is worked out around the ninety minutes before Arunodaya (sunrise). In the Gregorian calendar the date varies somewhat, but it takes places on the 15th day of the month of Kartika in the Hindu calendar.
This is sometime between 16th October and 15thNovember each year. The official date for 2017 was 19th October, but the actual celebrations happen on different dates in different states.
The Gods and Goddesses of Diwali
Diwali honors the Hindu God Rama-chandra, who is considered to be the ‘seventh avatar’. If you’re American you might be more familiar with the deity Vishnu; Rama-chandra is said to be one of his incarnations. Legend has it that Rama was exiled for 14 years, during which time he was victorious in a fight against demons; the festival lights symbolize the victory of the light over the dark. Hindus celebrate the light in a spiritual sense, embracing the light within each person.
Another Hindu goddess is a big part of the Diwali celebrations. Lakshmi is the goddess of abundance, fortune, and happiness, and she is said to roam around Earth on the day of the festival, entering only into the cleanest, brightest homes. It is common for pujas to be done for Lakshmi to express gratitude for the abundance she brings.
There will also be pujas for Lord Ganesh, who represents the impulse of consciousness that can remove the obstacles that keep us from happiness.
Diwali is a spiritual affair
Diwali has much spiritual significance. People enthusiastically celebrate abundance, happiness, spiritual growth, wisdom, peace and connection to the divine. The letting go of burdens is symbolized by letting off firecrackers, so it won’t be a quiet affair!
Candles symbolize the happiness felt by people experiencing this spiritual liberation. Other spiritual activities include the pujas for the Gods and Goddesses, and there will be satsangs (group conversations with wise gurus and spiritual teachers), as well as meditations.
Expect a feast for the senses
On a practical level, Indian businesses are incredibly busy selling their wares ahead of this festival; saris, jewelry, incense, lamps and ornamental statues of deities fly off the shelves.
It is a chance to get dressed up and have some fun, and those who love henna will have countless opportunities to give and receive beautiful henna body art. Check out this video of an Indian Diwali festival; you’ll get to see some truly amazing Mehndi art being applied, and a glimpse of many other fascinating traditional activities.
If you go along to Diwali in your state, you’ll get to try out delicious Indian cuisine, as well as mouthwatering sweets and fragrant Chai teas. ‘Bright’ and ‘colorful’ are adjectives that characterize most Indian festivals, and Diwali is no different. You can expect an abundance of eye-catching décor and twinkling lights in the form of candles, lamps,sparklers,bonfires, and fireworks.
Where to take part in Diwali in the US
In Utah Diwali is now classed as a state festival. There are many other states celebrating Diwali too; you can find a festival in California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Minnesota. There is also New jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. Find out what’s going on in your state here.
If you’re henna curious, or you’re already a fully-fledged henna artist, Diwali is an amazing opportunity for you to witness some cultural traditions. You may even be able to offer some of your own creations at the festivals, dependent on the set-up. At the very least there will be an abundance of inspiration on offer and a chance to experience this ancient tradition in an authentically Indian environment. Happy Diwali!