Monday, 31 October 2011

Diwali

This morning in assembly we looked at the Hindu festival, Diwali - also known as 'The Festival of Lights'.

Light shining in the darkness.
Light takes away the darkness.
Light brings hope.


Having lit a number of 'diwas' the story of Rama and Sita was told.

Diwali celebrates the return of Rama and Sita, in the story from the Ramayana. The story shows how good wins over evil...

Prince Rama and his wife, Sita, are banished from their home in Ayodhya by their father the King. Rama's brother, Lakshmana, goes with them to live in a forest. They are banished for fourteen years.

After many happy years, Sita is kidnapped by the ten-headed demon Ravana. He takes Sita to his island of Lanka. With the help of the monkey warrior, Hanuman, Rama rescues his wife.

The people of Ayodhya light divas (oil lamps) in rows to guide Rama and Sita back from the forest to Ayodhya. On their return Rama is crowned king.

People light hundreds of small oil lamps (called diwas) They place them around the home, in courtyards and in gardens, as well as on roof-tops and outer walls. This is to commemorate the part of the story that describes oil lamps being placed outside people’s homes to light the way for Rama and Sitas triumphant homecoming to Ayodhya.

The more lamps they light, the more likely it is that Lakshmi (the Hindu goddess of ealth and prosperity) will be tempted to visit them. Hindus believe that the goddess brings wealth with her when she visits.

What happens during Diwali?

Gifts are exchanged - often sweets or candles. Cards are sent, homes are decorated and oil lamps are lit. Fireworks are another big part of the celebrations.

In the evening, many people hold a small prayer (puja) in their homes. They honour Ganesh, the god of wisdom and good luck, the one who removes all obstacles from life. They worship Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and good fortune.

Lights are left burning all night, so that Lakshmi may feel welcomed and enter.

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