Also known as the festival of lights. Diwali is an annual Indian festival celebrated by an estimated 800 million to 1 billion Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Newar Buddhists worldwide.

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Key Takeaways About Diwali

The festival is observed for five consecutive days.

  • Diwali dates for the year are based on the Hindu lunar calendar and it typically falls within October to November.
  • Day 3 is considered the main Diwali festival day.
  • Day 1 is “Dhanteras” which means “wealth and 13th day” in Sanskrit. Some reserve the purchase of expensive items for this auspicious day.
  • American Indians are affiliated with a variety of faiths and ~10% are unaffiliated.

Festival Overview

  • Day One – Dhanteras
    • Means “wealth and 13th day” in Sanskrit.
  • Day Two – Naraka Chaturdashi
    • A day to eliminate idleness and evil.
  • Day Three – Lakshmi Puja
    • Welcomes Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune and prosperity
  • Day Four – Govardhan Puja
    • Honors Lord Krishna and his defeat of the god Indra.
  • Day Five – Bhai Dooj
    • Celebrates the strong bond between sisters and brothers.

Interesting Facts

  • Hinduism
    • Is one of the oldest world religion. Principles and practices are based on the Vedas and Upanishads.
    • Did you know? “Hindu” was derived from a Persian word that describes “the people living east of the Indus river”.
  • Hindus
    • Considers all religion to be equal but with different paths to reaching the same goals.
    • Did you know? Ancient practitioners of Hinduism had no name for their religion. The term appeared around 518 BC.
  • The Hindu
    • Nationalist movement went mainstream in 1923 with an influential pamphlet titled “Hindutva: Who is Hindu?”
    • Did you know? The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 applies to all who is not Muslim, Christian, Parsee or Jew.

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References

Asian Americans: A Mosaic of Faiths. (2019). Retrieved 17 November 2019, from https://www.pewforum.org/2012/07/19/asian-americans-a-mosaic-of-faiths-overview/

Vohra, Ashok. (2014). Hinduism.pdf. The Religious Other Hostility, Hospitality, and the Hope of Human Flourishing Edited by Alon Goshen-Gottstein, LEXINGTON BOOKS Lanham • Boulder • New York • London. 99-115.

Hinduism. Pluralism Project at Harvard University, Religious Literacy Project at Harvard Divinity School; 2015.

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