Diwali Celebration in America
Diwali, the festival of lights, is the best known of Hindu festivals ...
Diwali, the festival of lights, is the best known of Hindu festivals in the United States. The legends connected to the festival are different for different religions. According to Ramayana, one of the most important epics of the Hindu religion, Diwali commemorates the return of Lord Rama with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman, from his 14-year exile after killing the demon king Ravana. Thus, it symbolizes the victory of good over evil and is celebrated with great fervor by one and all. The celebration includes visiting temples, performing Lakshmi puja, exchanging greetings, sharing sweets with loved ones, attending cultural and talent shows, musical concerts and social parties, besides lighting candles, earthen lamps and firecrackers where permissible. The annual observance demonstrates the rich history and traditions of the Hindu faith and provides an occasion for the followers to remember their many blessings and celebrate their hope for a brighter future.
Sikhs celebrate Diwali as it marks the return of the sixth Guru, Hargobind Rai to Amritsar after he was freed from the fort of Gwalior by Emperor Jahangir in October, 1619, where he was imprisoned along with 52 Hindu Kings who were incarcerated as political prisoners. When the emperor decided to release the Guru, the latter managed to get all the Hindu kings freed at the same time. Guru Hargobind became known as the “Bandi Chhor” (Deliverer from prison) and the event is celebrated as the Bandi Chhor Divas. The Guru arrived at Amritsar on the Diwali day and the HarMandar (Golden Temple) was lit with hundreds of lamps to celebrate his return. Every year, the Golden Temple is illuminated in a spectacular display and fireworks are displayed to commemorate the memory of Guru’s return. Sikh temples across America hold religious gatherings to remember the legacy of their Guru who fought for social justice and got freedom for people who belonged to a different faith.