What Diwali Means to Us

University of Arkansas’s Executive HSA board:

Diwali is one of the largest Hindu holidays commonly known as the Festival of Lights. It signifies the victory of good over evil, where light represents knowledge and darkness is synonymous to ignorance. My family annually celebrates Diwali by lighting candles around the house and preparing delicious, traditional Indian sweets. Sometimes, we would light fireworks to celebrate this auspicious time! After exchanging presents, we would continue to rejoice with our loved ones by thanking Goddess Laxmi for blessing us with peace and prosperity.

12241114_1227780637238315_152034415460414373_oMeenu Pillai, Texas A&M

In comparison to most states in India, Kerala does not celebrate Diwali as a major holiday. For me, Diwali was admiring the display of lights from afar, watching from the distance others having fun with fireworks and cherishing the day. I treated the day of Diwali as a regular day. It wasn’t until I went off to college and experienced Indian traditions from the perspectives of people that I got to experience Diwali as the holiday that every other Indian state celebrates. Last year was my first time to finally replicate the mere images and view the beauty of the lights illuminating the night sky.

University of Texas at Dallas’s HSA executive board

While it’s definitely acceptable to celebrate the Diwali simply as the “Festival of Lights,” learning the significance behind Diwali helps us appreciate it so much more! One of the stories behind the meaning of Diwali is the return of Lord Rama with his wife, Sitaji and his brother, Prince Lakshman after the vanquish of the evil King Ravana – in short, the triumph of good over evil. What did King Ravana represent? Our negative tendencies? Our Ego, maybe? These negative tendencies inhibit us from being our true Self. More simply put, they might be the reason why we tend to procrastinate, allow our anger to get out of our control, or give too much importance to certain material objects. If we find our own negative tendencies or our own King Ravana in our lives and vanquish them similar to how Lord Rama did so, who knows? We might crack some fireworks next year not only for Ramji’s victory, but also our own.

University of Texas at Austin’s HSA executive board

Diwali, The Festival of Lights, is a time to celebrate the victory of good over evil and truth over ignorance as well as commemorate the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. Here, at UT Austin, we strive to celebrate Diwali in a traditional and interactive way in order to create an environment for those that cannot go home to celebrate Diwali with their families. Additionally, Diwali marks the new year for many of us, so we take the time to reflect on the past year and pray for a prosperous new year.