During the month of October (or sometimes November) my informant’s family and friends celebrate Diaali (“Diwali”) or the Indian Festival of Lights. She said this was always a fun celebration, because their house was all decorated and everyone was always cheerful. In her words,
“We put bazillions of little tea lights all over the house, up the stairs, in the living room, everywhere, and put Christmas lights up outside (which was a little awkward since it was October, but whatever). Also we’d set off firecrackers in the street. The Festival of Lights has to do with a Hindu story where a god went and conquered a devil, and when he returned the people were celebrating in the streets with lights to cheer him on. It’s always in October or November–this year, it’s on October 26, but last year it was in early November. There’s also a lot of sweets and other food, and often we exchange gifts.”
This holiday is based in a myth, but it has different meanings for various religions. The three main religions that celebrate Diaali (or Diwali) are Sikh, Hindu, and Jain. According to an article in the Charlottetown Guardian, the five-day festival celebrates the homecoming of the god Rama, after a fourteen year exile. I’m always really interested in festivals that are based in some kind of mythology, particularly ones from different cultures. The fact that three different religions all celebrate the same basic event, though they do differ significantly, is an excellent support for the argument for monogeny, where a tradition originates in one place and then disseminates to others.
Annotation: Gupta, Sharda. “Diwali.” The Guardian (Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island). 5 December 2000: G21. Print.