Diwali festivities are lighting up around the globe. Though Indians and Indian-Americans have long celebrated the five-day holiday, also known as the “Festival of Lights,” popular culture is just now starting to catch up. Not only is the holiday starting to be featured on popular television programs and in big brand marketing campaigns, but even President Barack Obama is offering yearly warm wishes. Obama is the first U.S. president to extend a greeting to all the Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists that celebrate the holiday.
Originally begun as a festival to mark the year’s last harvest before winter, Diwali now celebrates the triumph of light over dark and knowledge over ignorance, and helps usher in a new year. The holiday gets its name from the clay lamps, known as diyas or deepas, that Indian families light and place outside their homes to demonstrate their inner life and welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. In addition to lighting diyas, Indians also throw bonfires and watch fireworks, share sweet treats known as mithai, and exchange gifts with family to honor the holiday.
Cruisers who are currently in the cities of Bombay , Cochin, Goa and New Mangalore should definitely take the time to explore the ongoing Diwali festivities. For those outside of India interested in celebrating the holiday, most major cities with large Indian populations have scores of events lined up to welcome in the new year.