Happy Diwali from GoCardless
Last editedNov 20202 min read
Today, people in Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities across the world will begin celebrating Diwali 2020, including some of us at GoCardless.
Ideally, supported by the BEAM employee initiative group at GoCardless, we’d share these good times with our colleagues in person - celebrating and educating often go hand-in-hand. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic means that this year, the festive period will look a little different.
However, Diwali is about happiness! In the spirit of festivities, instead of dwelling on what we can't do, I'll give a whistle-stop tour of what Diwali is all about - why we celebrate, and what those celebrations normally look like.
So . . . what is Diwali?
The biggest festival of the Hindu calendar, Diwali is a 5 day festival falling every year on the last days of the last month of Asvina - normally October/November in the Gregorian calendar.
On the first day, Dhantrayodashi, devotees worship and celebrate the goddess of wealth, Laxmi. On the second day, Kali Chaudas, Goddess Kali, the destroyer of evil forces, is celebrated. Then comes the big day of Diwali itself, where the return of Lord Ram back to his birth town Ayodhya after a 14 year exile is celebrated.
The day after Diwali is the first day of the Hindu New Year.
Finally on the 5th day, Bhai Dooj - the bond and love between sisters and their brothers - is celebrated.
This year, the 5 days of Diwali start on 12th November, with Diwali itself falling on 14th November, and Hindu New Year on 15th November.
Wait . . . who was Lord Ram?
Lord Ram is the 7th incarnation of Lord Vishnu (the revered sustainer of the holy trinity in Hinduism). The incarnation took place to liberate the world from the rule of the demon Ravan and rid the world of evil.
Lord Ram was exiled for 14 years, and in the latter part of the exile, Ravan kidnapped his wife Sita. Lord Ram then assembled the Vanar Sena (Army of Monkeys) and led them to battle in Lanka to defeat the evil Ravan.
Victorious, Lord Ram returned to Ayodhya as its rightful ruler and king. Lord Ram’s return to Ayodhya was marked with diyas (candles) being lit across the city - thus Diwali is commonly known as the festival of lights.
How do we celebrate?
Traditionally on the main celebration day of Diwali, families, relatives and friends will gather and light diyas (candles) around the house and then start with an evening prayer.
Business owners will carry out a Chopda Pujan (blessing of business books) with a prayer to the goddess of wealth, Laxmi.
Once prayers have been completed, families will exchange gifts and money, and the younger family members will bow to the elders to seek their blessings.
With the formalities then completed we will enjoy divine Indian sweets and a meal together. Once bellies have been filled, the fun of fireworks begins, and the skies are lit up with all colours to celebrate the homecoming of Lord Ram.
2020 has been a strange year, and while we're not out of the woods yet, I wish a happy Diwali to all those celebrating - on behalf of myself and GoCardless.