Saturday March 23, 2019

How different faiths, states celebrate Diwali

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Diwali, the festival of lights, is celebrated with great fervor around the world for a number of reasons not only by Hindus but also by the people of different faiths. For instance, in the northern and the western regions of India, Diwali is held in honor of the return of Lord Ram to his kingdom ‘Ayodhya’ after defeating the demon king Ravana. People burst crackers, light diyas, decorate their houses, distribute sweets and hold special prayers to Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesh.

However, as I mentioned above, people in different parts of the country mark this day for their own reasons. Here’s a look at how and why they celebrate Diwali.

  • Jains

For Jains, Diwali has a special significance as the day commemorates the anniversary of Lord Mahavir‘s attainment of moksha, or freedom from the cycle of reincarnation, in 527 B.C.E. Lord Mahavir was the 24th and last Thirtankar of Jainism and revitalized the religion as it is today. Jains believe that the earth and the heavens were illuminated with lamps to mark the occasion of Lord Mahavir’s enlightenment.

On Diwali, Jains like Hindus light camps to symbolize keeping the light of Lord Mahavir’s knowledge alive and distribute sweets in celebration of his contributions. Besides, Diwali is also observed by fasting, singing hymns and chanting mantras to honor Lord Mahavir. The next day after Diwali is marked by the Jain New Year.

  • Sikhs

Sikhs celebrate Diwali by bursting firecrackers, displaying candles in front of the doors and on windows, and decorating their homes and building with lights. The festival holds a special significance for them as on this day in 1619 Guru Hargobind, along with 52 kings, was released by Emperor Jahangir. After his release, Sikhs lit the Golden Temple, and the tradition has continued into modern days. Moreover, it was on Diwali in 1577 the foundation stone of The Golden Temple was laid.

  • Buddhists

For Buddhists, Diwali marks a day when, around 265 BC, Emperor Ashoka renounced his throne and adopted the path of peace. He decided to convert to Buddhism after going through a lot of bloodshed and killings. Buddhists observe this day as ‘Ashok Vijaydashmi’ by chanting mantras to remember Lord Buddha and, also, Emperor Ashoka.

Moreover, like Hindus, Diwali stands as a symbol of the triumph of good over evil as Emperor Ashoka gave up his violent ways and chose the path of peace and nonviolence on this day.

Diwali is celebrated for different reasons in other parts of India as well:

  • Karnataka

For Kannadigas, the first and third days of Diwali hold special significance as ‘Ashwija Krishna Chaturdashi’ is celebrated to mark the denouement of a demon named Narakasura. It is believed that after having killed Narakasura, Lord Krishna took oil bath to rid himself from the blood of the demon. People observe this day by taking oil bath on Naraka Chaturdashi.

On the other hand, the third day of Diwali is known as Bali Padyami when women sketch colorful rangoli at the doorsteps of their homes and build miniature forts of cow dung.

  • Odisha

People in Odisha celebrate Diwali to pay respect to their ancestors, seers and gods. The following hymn is an important part of their rituals.

Badabadua ho andhaara e asa Aluaa e Jaao Baaisi pahacha e Gadagadau thaao (Oh our ancestors, seers and gods you came on the dark night of Mahalaya, and now it is time for you to depart for heaven, so we are showing light, may you attain peace in abode of Jagannatha!)

Besides, Tarpan is offered to Goddess Lakshmi and Kali puja is performed in various towns.

  • West Bengal and Assam

Pooja to Goddess Kali, lights, and fireworks mark the day in West Bengal whereas the Mithila region of Bihar and Assam perform Lakshmi and Ganesh pooja along with offerings to Goddess Kali.

  • Andhra Pradesh

A musical narration of the story of Lord Hari or Harikatha is organized in many places in the state. It is believed that Lord Krishna’s consort Satyabhama killed demon Narakasura. Therefore, special clay idols of Satyabhama are kept and offered prayers. Rest of the celebrations are similar to other southern states with people flaunting new clothes and jewelry.

Next Story

Sikhs In U.S. To Donate Funds, Food To Unpaid TSA Workers

Leading the community efforts, Khalsa is currently working with several local grocery stores that are eager to offer foodstuff at discounted prizes. 

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Photo: metro.co.uk

Two Sikh communities in the US state of Indiana will donate funds and food to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers, as they remain unpaid due to the ongoing partial government shutdown.

The Sikh community of Fishers, Indiana, and Gurinder Singh Khalsa of SikhsPAC, a national Sikh political action committee, are coordinating with Mario Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Indianapolis Airport Authority, and Aaron Batt, TSA Federal Security Director, to support TSA agents, who are impacted by the shutdown, the American Bazaar news portal reported on Thursday.

“The community has come forward and is keen to support the workers who are undergoing the crisis of missing their paychecks,” Khalsa told the portal.

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Sikhs in US to donate funds, food to unpaid federal workers,representational image

He said that $5,000 in gift/grocery cards and more than $5,000 worth of hot food will be delivered to the TSA agents at the Indianapolis Airport on January 28.

Leading the community efforts, Khalsa is currently working with several local grocery stores that are eager to offer foodstuff at discounted prizes.

“We are looking at the places that can offer us good discounts so that we can deliver maximum stuff to workers affected,” he said.

TSA official Batt said the communities’ efforts were “overwhelming and amazing”.

To ensure that the community is able to offer helping hands to federal workers until the shutdown ends, the Sikhs in Fishers have vowed to encourage more Sikh temples and faith-based organisations in the state to come forward in assisting in the coming weeks if needed.

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Leading the community efforts, Khalsa is currently working with several local grocery stores that are eager to offer foodstuff at discounted prizes.  ( IANS)

“Our community kitchen will continue serving every Sunday and we will deliver hot food weekly to our TSA public servants on a weekly basis until the shutdown is lifted,” Khalsa said.

TSA falls under the Department of Homeland Security and has about 60,000 employees.

Its workers are one of the lowest paid employees and have been working without pay since the shutdown began on December 22.

Also Read: Are Indian Scientists’ Minds Cluttered With Prejudices?

TSA also has a much larger minority concentration of employees with about 22.9 per cent of them being African American employees, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics.

The partial government shutdown continues as President Donald Trump demands $5.7 billion for a wall along the US-Mexico border and Democratic lawmakers decline to approve it.

Roughly 800,000 federal employees have been furloughed or are working without pay since then. (IANS)