DIWALI is the festival of lights. Diwali is derived from the Sanskrit word “Deepavali,” which means “row of lights.” This festival spreads the message of love, peace, friendship, and togetherness in the community.
Diwali is a festival celebrated across the world by 2 billion people from the Hindu, Jain, Sikh, and Buddhist faiths. It mostly falls in the month of Oct/Nov. This year, we celebrate Diwali on Mon, October 24th.
Over 300+ religious, social, and cultural organizations from Dharmic faiths (Hindu, Jain, Sikh, and Buddhist), come together to support local communities. All these Dharmic faiths believe in Service (SEWA) to humanity as one of the main tenants. SewaDiwali (https://www.sewadiwali.org/) is a nationwide food drive project conceived with this goal in mind. SewaDiwali strives to make a difference in the lives of those suffering from food insecurity. Driven by the values of Dharma and selfless service, this noble act of giving back is a collective initiative of organizations and individuals from Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and Jain Communities.
In 2021, we donated 8,500 pounds of non-perishable food items to three food pantries in Michigan. While speaking to the SewaDiwali volunteers, Flint city mayor Sheldon Neeley said, “your donations would bring a smile on the face of hungry families in our community. Thank you for considering this community.”
This year the need is much bigger with overall inflation of 9% and food prices inflation of over 20% compared to last year. With the outstanding success last year, we would like to double our donations this year to serve many needy families in the metro-Detroit area. This is an invitation to all the residents to take part in this food drive campaign and help us reach our goal.
Historical Significance of Diwali festival:
Many historical events have occurred during Diwali, and these events are celebrated and remembered regionally or globally with varied stories and traditions. One such historical event was the return of Lord Shri Ram, the 7th avatar (human manifestation of the divine) to Ayodhya, after defeating the evil king Ravana of Lanka. People were jubilant and welcomed their prince after 13 years of exile in the forest with fireworks and lighting the entire city.
Diwali is celebrated over five days with each day holding special importance.
Day 1 - Dhanteras — Diwali is a time for dana (charitable giving) and Seva (selfless service), Hindus traditionally perform a deep cleaning of their homes, as cleanliness is believed to invoke the presence and blessings of Goddess Lakshmi who is the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. Many will also make rangoli (colored patterns of flowers, powder, or rice), which are also said to invite auspiciousness. Observers thus begin Diwali by cultivating a spirit of generosity, doing things like giving money to charities, feeding the hungry, and endeavoring to help those in need.
Day 2 - Chhoti Diwali — On this day, which is referred to as “small Diwali,” as it takes place before the main day of Diwali, Hindus decorate their homes with rangolis and display clay lamps. It is also said to be the day Narakasura was killed.
Day 3 - Diwali — On this day, people dress in new clothes, go to temples and perform puja (worship) to the Goddess Lakshmi, light wick lamps, enjoy delicious foods, burn fireworks, and spend time with family and friends.
Day 4 - Annakut, Padwa, Govardhan Puja — On this day, Hindus commemorate the time Krishna is believed to have protected his devotees from severe storms by lifting a hill called Govardhan, under which they all took shelter. Many regions also honor this as the first day of the new year and celebrate by exchanging gifts and showing gratitude for all they have in their life.
Day 5 - Bhai Duj — On this day, it is typical for siblings and cousins to get together and honor their relationships by spending quality time and enjoying a nice meal.
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