Diwali and the New Year Celebrations 2014
Diwali, the Festival of Lights is one of the most important occasions celebrated in India for many millennia.
It is referred to as the Festival of Lights, and is traditionally marked by placing decorated oil lamps (each called a (‘deep’) in rows (‘avali’) – hence the Sanskrit name, ‘Deepavali’. This practice can be traced to the return of Bhagwan Rama to Ayodhya after vanquishing the evil King Ravana. The people of Ayodhya celebrated his return by lighting the streets with oil lamps and decorating their front yards with colorful designs called a Rangoli. Diwali thus celebrates the triumph of good over evil and is a reminder to dispel inner darkness with the light of presence of God.
There are many sentiments associated with the festivities of Diwali.
- It is a time for family. Bhai beej – when siblings honor one another and show mutual respect.
- It is the festival of lights – On this day, people light diva symbolically, in forms of candle lights with prayers for inner enlightenment.
- It is a feast – Sweets are shared with family and friends. Indian vegetarian delicacies are enjoy by all.
- It is a time for renewal – Account books are honored in Chopda pujan.
- It is a time for community – families of all backgrounds gather and celebrate the New Year at the Mandir and at selected places.
- People endeavor to forgive and forget misdeeds of the past year and resolve to spend the coming year in peace and harmony to earn a living, by observing righteousness.
What is Annakut?
The day following Diwali is the beginning of the Hindu New Year. It is a time of renewal, reflection and resolution.
It is also an occasion where people offer their thanks to the Almighty. This is traditionally celebrated with the Annakut – literally, ‘a mountain of food’. It is an offering of the first meal of the Hindu New Year. It is a grand offering of hundreds of vegetarian delicacies prepared in devotion to thank God for His providence over the past year and to seek His blessing for the year ahead.
Hindu New Year is based on lunar calendar. This year it is on Friday, October 24, 2014.
Annakut is thus amongst one of the most auspicious days of the Hindu year and celebrated fervently with gifts, feasting and merriment.