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Celebrate Diwali

Diwali, popularly known as the “Festival of Lights”, is an important annual Hindu festival that is celebrated by families performing traditional activities together in their homes. It celebrates the victory of good over evil, and those who celebrate it, decorate their homes in order to welcome the Goddess Lakshimi into their abode so that she can shower her divine blessings of beauty, fortune and prosperity on them.

 

The date on which Diwali is celebrated changes every year, as the day is calculated according to the position of the moon. According to Hindu reckoning, the date of Diwali falls on the 15th day of the dark fortnight in the auspicious Hindy month of Kartik (the months of October and November in the Western calendar). Diwali falls on the amavasya or the “no moon” day, which this year is 26 October 2011.

The name “Diwali” is a contraction of the Sanskrit word “Deepvali”, which translates into “row of lamps” – and it is this symbolism of light finding its way into our lives and our hearts that the festival is based on. From the darkness into the light – light empowers us to commit ourselves to good deeds and brings us closer to the divine. As such, during Diwali, lights play an exceptionally important part of the décor. Below are some bright ideas on how to decorate your home in the Diwali tradition:

A good clean: Before you start decorating your home for Diwali, you first need to get your home in order.

If your home requires any painting, repairs or renovations, it best to get them done around this time of year in time.

At the very least, your home should be thoroughly cleaned from top to bottom in preparation for this festival – make sure everything is sparkling clean and that the spaces are free from any clutter.

Diyas: As mentioned before, light plays and integral part of these celebrations, and the traditional way of bringing more light into the home is by illuminating the various spaces by lighting diyas. These are simple earthen clay lamps, filled with a wick and some ghee.

Lighting diyas is a part of the Diwali celebrations. Diyas are used to illuminate homes in the firm belief that Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha visit only those homes that are nicely lit. [via]

Diyas can be placed throughout the home, including on windowsills, tabletops, balconies and staircases, to offer a warm welcome to both visitors and the Goddess Lakshimi.

If you're feeling crafty, you can use Jovi Air Drying Clay to make your own diyas and then paint them up in a kaleidoscope of colour with acrylic craft paint, glitter glue and gilding paste.

Rangoli: As a further welcome to the Goddess Lakshimi, Hindu women create colourful rangoli designs on the floor of their living room or entrance hall out of vibrantly coloured rice flour or chalk dust.

Earthen diyas are placed in and around the design to increase its overall night-time appeal.

Candles:
In this day and age – if you can’t get your hands on traditional diyas, you can always use candles instead. Aromatic candles can add a wonderful scent to the evening’s festivities. A selection of diyas and candles can also make a wonderfully attractive feature.

String lighting: While candles and diyas have a special place in the list of decorative items for Diwali, LED lights have also gained popularity. They are much safer than their open-flamed counterparts, and they can be used year after year if properly cared for. LED fairy lights are the ideal choice to brighten up both your indoor and outdoor spaces for Diwali.

They use up to 80% less energy and last up to 60 times longer than their incandescent counterparts, and they boast a much lower heat output.

Torans: Traditional hand-made hangings or torans can be used throughout your home to decorate entranceways and walls for Diwali. They can be made from cloth or mango leaves, and those decorated with mirrors to catch the light and bells are especially suitable.

The main idea behind the custom of decorating the home is to please and attract the Goddess of wealth, Goddess Lakshmi, as it is popularly said that she enters only in a clean and decorated home. Thus apart from the entire home, the decoration of the entrance of a place, which is called 'dwaar', also becomes very important. The beautiful door hangings that are called 'Bandanwaar', or even torans, have special significance as the decorative accessories in Diwali festivities.

Flowers: The inclusion of an array of fresh cut flowers is a significant part of celebrating Diwali – they add colour, beauty and a wonderful natural scent to the festivities.

They can be included in vases, or hung on walls and doorways in the form of garlands. Marigolds, lilies, roses and jasmine are especially popular choices.

String some flowers together and pull them real close. You can easily re-string them if they fall off. Hang them around the home for a bold, colourful display. [via]

Outdoor lighting: Diwali decorations need not be limited to the interior of your home – rather, it can spread to include your outdoor spaces too.

The GrandSolar Floating Ball lights from Hirschs ideal for this – they can float in the swimming pool, spa bath, pond or water feature. They comes in single and rainbow colours and provide up to 12 hours of lighting for a magnificent night-time display of colour.