Celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights

As the year inches its way to a close, there are many holidays to be celebrated. There are many that probably come to mind – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa. But there’s another major cultural holiday coming up: Diwali.

This year’s main Diwali celebration is on Monday, October 24th. If you don’t know much about Diwali, here’s a quick breakdown.

Diwali (also spelled as Divali) is one of the major religious festivals in Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism. However, it is also celebrated throughout India, Singapore and several other South Asian countries as a national holiday. 

Customs to observe the holiday differ between regions and cultures. In India, the holiday is typically celebrated over a five-day period, with the third day being the primary day of celebration. In many other countries, only the main day is celebrated.

The name Diwali derived from the Sanskrit word “dipavali”, which means “row of lights”. The holiday symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, so candles and hand-crafted oil lamps called diyas are lit to celebrate. These lamps are placed in rows everywhere, from temples to houses and set adrift into water. Houses are also decorated with rangoli, intricate patterns made of colored rice, sand or flower petals. Fireworks are also set off to both light up the night sky and ward off evil spirits.

Diwali is also a celebration of family and community. People will wear their best clothes, or buy new ones, and gather together to exchange gifts and eat special dishes and sweets. Games of chance and card games are played to ensure good luck in the coming year.

Join us at the Crestwood Library as we celebrate Diwali with Sally Pinto and our friends from NNORC on Friday, October 14th at 3:00PM. 

At 3:00PM, Alyssa Advincula, JSY Nutritionist from Feeding Westchester will show us how to prepare chickpea salad. Then at 3:30PM we will hear about Ragas and listen to the Harmonium and Tabla with MC/musician Satish Gambhir and musician Hussan Khan. Then enjoy a hands-on experience with the instruments.

Can’t make it to the event? Don’t worry! Grab n’ Go activity packets are available for pick up while supplies last. Be sure to check out some books about Diwali from the library too!

A display of books about Diwali at the Crestwood Library.

Alison Robles is a part-time page at the Crestwood Library. She is an avid reader with a passion for fantasy, history and science fiction. A Yonkers native, she graduated from Iona University in 2020 with a dual-degree in Marketing and Public Relations.

Encyclopedia Britannica and Almanac.com were used as sources for information about Diwali.