A lad portraying the Monkey God Hanuman who possessed super strength at a pre - Diwali celebrationin Richmond Hill, Queens, NY on Saturday October 16, 2022. (Photo by C. Aklu)

By Chaitram Aklu

This year Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights is celebrated on October 24 – Amavaysa the darkest day of the month in the Hindu calendar. It is calculated by the phases of the moon. Thus it does not coincide with the Gregorian calendar which has October 8, as the darkest day of the month.

Very simply Diwali as told in the Ramayana, the Hindu sacred book, celebrates the return of Lord Rama, his wife Sita, brother Lakshman and Hamuman the Monkey God who possessed extraordinary strength, after 14 years in exile and their defeat and slaying of the Demon King Ravana. Ravana had abducted Sita and taken her to Ceylon now Sri Lanka, which was connected to India via a land bridge. The people in the kingdom Ajodhya lighted fires along the path to provide light for their reentry into the Kingdom.

The significance of celebrating Diwali today is to dispel spiritual darkness rather than physical darkness. That is why in preparation for the celebration people clean their homes especially for this week and light diyas at twilight on Diwali Day – placing them in their doorways and windows. They eat sweetmeats and fruits and prepare special meals which they share with others.

Diwali is just one of the many celebrations that is observed on this day by Indians in India and the diaspora and is linked to Lakshmi the Goddess of Light.

Celebrate Diwali by dispelling darkness and ignorance from the mind and saturating it with goodness.