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Indira Srivatsa
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From the Editor's Desk: Deepavali - “The Festival of Lights” This editorial talks about Deepavali - The celebration of the victory of light over darkness. Deepavali—“the Festival of Lights”—is one of the most significant, joyous and popular festivals of India. In Sanskrit, deepa means “lamp” and avali is “row.” Thus, the name Deepavali refers to the rows of small clay lamps, known in Hindi as diyas, that are lit in homes, temples, and streets during this festival. The overarching theme of Deepavali is the triumph of light over darkness, of knowledge over ignorance, of goodness over evil. According to the lunar calendar, the festival begins with Govatsa Dvadashi on the twelfth day of the Krishna Paksha, the dark fortnight of the waning moon. It is followed on the thirteenth day with Dhanteras, and with Narak Chaturdashi on the fourteenth day. The festival culminates on the fifteenth day with the New Moon or amavasya, which is itself the day of Deepavali. In many parts of India and all over the world in the Indian diaspora, on the day after Deepavali people celebrate the New Year, which is also called Bali Pratipada. This day-by-day movement from dark to light celebrates the end of one year and the beginning of another. The first day of the year falls in Shukla Paksha, the bright fortnight of the moon. Deepavali and New Year are times of completion and new beginnings; times to offer gratitude, to honor and invoke prosperity, and to spread good will among people. When I was growing up in Vellore, Tamil Nadu, my grandmother along with many of my cousins and aunts and uncles lived in the same house, as was typical in India. For Deepavali our home would be abuzz with all of the youngsters looking forward to buying new clothes and firecrackers, while our mothers were busy making sweets and savories in large quantities. I remember the huge containers with the typical delicious treats for the occasion: besan laddoos (sweet round balls made with chickpea flour), nariyal barfis (sweets made with coconut flour); chaklis and sev (savories made with rice flour and chickpea flour), and many more. Although my cousins and I were told not to eat these treats before the festival started, we would sneak up to the pantry and lay our hands on some of them, hoping not to be found out… Looking back on these indelible memories, I think Deepavali was one of my favorite and most anticipated celebrations, as it is for many people around the world, because it nourished my human desire to connect with others and to celebrate life in a lovely way. This festival so beautifully does this by bringing people together during those four days and the days preceding. Throughout my life, I have learned about the meaning behind various aspects of Deepavali through books, plays, bhajans, and stories from the Ramayana, one of the a great epics of all times. I also learned that Deepavali is a time to invoke prosperity s vat i r S a r di by paying homage to Shri Mahalakshmi, the goddess of abundance in all its forms. In Editor | A TO Z INDIA Happy Deepavali 2022! (Sunday, October 24, 2022) [email protected] +91-7550160116 A TO Z INDIA OCTOBER 2022 PAGE 4

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