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Tri-State India Association prepping for Diwali celebration

Oct. 28, 2012 @ 03:04 PM

 HUNTINGTON -- The Tri-State India Association will celebrate Diwali, or the Festival of Lights, with a dinner, dance and music at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10 at Huntington High School.

Tickets are $15 in advance. Pre-registration for food will be accepted until Nov. 8. After Nov. 8, gate registration for dinner is $20. Costs are $12 for students and free for children five and under. Indian vegetarian dinner is included.

To pre-register, please call Deba Maitra, president of the Tri-State India Association, at 304-654-6253.

Diwali is one of the most recognized festivals in the Hindu religion. The word Diwali originates from the Sanskrit word deepavali which means a row of lights, and Diwali literally means the "Festival of Lights." Diwali is similar to the New Year celebration, however Diwali is centered on the Hindu (Vikrama) calendar so the date varies within the Western calendar.

Diwali occurs on the night of the new moon in the month of Kartika. In the western calendar it usually occurs between October and November.

The first Diwali was celebrated approximately 3,500 years ago in response to the return of Lord Rama to the kingdom of Ayodhya after his 14 year exile. He was exiled with his brother, Lakshman, and his wife, Sita. During the 14 year exile Rama defeated the demon king Ravana. When Rama returned to Ayodhya, the citizens lit up the land with bright oil lamps and colorful fireworks to celebrate the return of their beloved king.

Diwali also represents the start of a new year, a chance to begin fresh. People pray and show their respect to idols of Lord Rama and Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, in hopes of a successful new year.

Diwali extends over a total of five days; each day is dedicated to a different thought or ideal. The first day is dedicated to praying for protection from death. The second day is dedicated to resting and relaxation so that Diwali can be celebrated with vigor, the third day people pray for wealth and prosperity, the fourth day is dedicated to the power of prayer, and the fifth day is dedicated to the strength of the bond between brother and sister.

During Diwali people also decorate their houses, shops and even public places with small oil lamps called diyas. People light up fireworks, and exchange gift and sweets with family members and friends. They also give to the poor by donating money and clothing.

Diwali is a festival that is celebrated by Hindus all over the world to commence the New Year. It strengthens hope and the commitment of friendships. It teaches you to focus on the simple joys in life and to give to others who are less fortunate. Although the festival is thousands of years old the principles and ideals it teaches remain the same, enriching the hearts and minds of people worldwide.