Saturday, September 26, 2009

A ten-day Hindu festival season

In the United States, the big national holidays last a single day or a weekend, at most. In the life of a practicing Hindu, however, celebrations may last a week or more.

This weekend marks the overlap of
three Hindu festivals and observances related to Mother Goddess. If your student is from Bhutan (ethnic Nepalese), her family is spending this weekend immersed in Hindu practice involving prayer, rituals, dance and food as part of “Dusshera” and “Vijayadashami,” or in Nepali, विजया दशमी

For more information on these Hindu holidays and their significance, visit Wikipedia and Hinduism at

The next major festival in 2009--and it's big--is the five-day celebration of Diwali on Saturday, October 17. According to Wikipedia, in Hinduism, across many parts of India and Nepal, it is the homecoming of Rama after a 14-year exile in the forest and his victory over the Ravana. In the legend, the people of Ayodhya (the capital of his kingdom) welcomed Rama by lighting rows (avali) of lamps (dĭpa), thus its name: dīpāwali. Over time, this word transformed into Diwali in Hindi and Dipawali in Nepali, but still retained its original form in South and East Indian Languages.

Like many major cultural observances, Diwali includes holiday-specific songs, special food, new clothes, sweets, and the exchange of gifts.

In India and Nepal, Diwali is now considered to be a national festival, and the aesthetic aspect of the festival is enjoyed by most Indians and Nepalese regardless of faith. For more helpful helpful background on this festival, visit Wikipedia and Diwali Festival.

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