Thursday, 23 October 2014

A New Dimension To Diwali!!

By: Team PenTastic
[Written by: Sidhant Sourav]

No wonder Diwali is a mega-festival in India. Celebrated throughout the 3,287,590km2 of the landscape, this extravaganza has been celebrated in the country for ages now. But what do I write about it?? First thought, the mainstream idea of its history, how we celebrate it and so on? No! We all have been reading and writing on it since 3rd grade. Then…how it affects the environment?? Not again…plus, it’s still a matter to wonder how a festive atmosphere for few hours can harm the environment when our automobiles create 150 times the havoc throughout the year. Nonetheless, this debate is for another day!!! So…basically we have grown up with the idea that mostly it’s an Indian festival.

Let’s get a sneak peek into the US Diwali!!

Diwali is a gazetted holiday in India, so government offices and many businesses (including local offices and shops) are closed. It is not a nationwide public holiday in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States but many cities hold large celebrations for the Diwali festival.

There are only a few achievements that former American President George Bush takes credit for - one of them is starting the White House's Diwali celebrations in 2003.  For the last few years, this duty has been upheld by the Obama family. Last year's Diwali saw a performance by American indie-rock band Goldspot, which is fronted by Indian Siddhartha Khosla.

Three million people in the U.S. along with their friends and compatriots worldwide will be celebrating Diwali on Thursday, Oct. 23. Diwali is one of the biggest holidays in India and for expats. Like Christmas, It involves colourful lights decorating a house, gift exchanges, dressing up in new clothes and a many family traditions.

Diwali (also known as Deepavali) is the “festival of the lights” and celebrates the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. While there are regional and religious differences in rituals, the use of lights in Diwali festivities is symbolic and ubiquitous.Like Christmas cookie exchanges, sweets are often given as gifts or shared with colleagues. These include chakali, jalebi, kulfi, coconut laddu and burfi. There is also a tradition of giving food and goods to those in need.
Going by its popularity, in many parts of the United States, there have been efforts to make Diwali a school or even a public holiday. For example, in New York City, a diverse coalition of organizations has asked Mayor Bill de Blasio to make Diwali an official school holiday, given the number of Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs who attend schools in the city.Several events and parties are held across various parts of the cities.

When I think of Diwali, I think of family and cleaning the house to welcome Lakshmi, the Goddess of Prosperity. Wearing new clothes and going to countless Diwali parties. Dancing and doing fireworks. Listening to my father retell the stories of Diwali and gorging on my mother's melt-in-your-mouth gulabjamun . Caught up in the revelry of the loud and colourful holiday, it is easy to lose sight of what the festival really represents: a celebration of light.

But an average NRI teenager discovered a new meaning of all this pomp and grandeur.In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, as many in New York and New Jersey struggled to return to normalcy and continue to deal with the loss of power, homes, and loved ones, Diwali and light took on a new meaning for him as they provided relief and help to the victims. “For me, light represents knowledge and the responsibility to use it effectively to improve the quality of life for those less fortunate. I consider my time back in school as a mechanism to develop my interests into a career that allows me to accurately apply business acumen to instrumenting social benefit. Ironically, however, it was not until I entered business school that I was able to look past the material celebration of Diwali and come to this realization.” says Nikhil.

They went on to make a group of individuals who go by distributing basic amenities to the needy. Also they go by teaching at the orphanages every weekend. A noble and offbeat thought, which should be practised by all of us.

It’s good to celebrate our festivals. But since we call our generation the new cool, it’s time to celebrate it in offbeat paths.Start small. After you clean your house for the Goddess of Prosperity, spend some time cleaning up your neighbourhood park so Lakshmi will follow there too. Fill up on tasty Diwali treats and then volunteer at the NGOs. As you put on your new clothes, take a pair of your old clothes to a nearby shelter so that someone less privileged can also wear new threads this Diwali. Celebrate your wealth by donating to a charitable trust of your choice, a cause that represents and promotes what light means to you. Remember, as the philosophy of karma (and Justin Timberlake) points out, "What goes around... comes around."

Have a Happy and safe Diwali!!! And try to do something for a noble cause!!! Give it a thought!!

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