India is known for its many festivals. Hindu festivals are a colorful combination of religious ceremonies and ritual spectacles that include worship, prayer, processions, music and dance, eating, drinking, feeding the poor and other religious or traditional activities.
The original purpose of these festivals is diverse. Some are meant to purify or ward off malicious influences. Others are intended to renew society, bridge critical moments, and stimulate or resuscitate the vital powers of nature. Because Hindu festivals relate to the cyclical life of nature, they are supposed to prevent it from stagnating. These cyclic festivals, which may last for many days, create a rhythm and structure for the year.
One of the most important festivals is Diwali, similar to the popularity of Christmas for Christians. It lasts for five days and usually falls in October or November. Called the “festival of light”, it represents new beginnings and the triumph of light over darkness. In some parts of India, the festival coincides with the harvest. The name “Diwali” comes from the Sanskrit word deepavali, which means a row (avali) of clay lamps (deepa) that Indians typically place outside their homes.
Hindus around the world celebrate many variations of this festival. In northern India, the festival celebrates the return of the god Rama to the city of Ayodhya, where Rama’s rule of righteousness will commence (reminiscent of the Christian belief that Christ will return to earth to establish His kingdom). In some parts of India, the festival also coincides with the last harvest of the year, and in some regions the fourth day of Diwali marks the beginning of a new year. Diwali is also enjoyed by non-Hindu communities, such as in Jainism and Sikhism.
Right now is a unique time to pray for Hindus, as they are celebrating the power of light over darkness for the next five days.
WAYS TO PRAY
- PRAY THAT during this time of celebrating light a hunger for the light of Christ will grow in the hearts of many Hindus.
- PRAY THAT a desire for the true reign of righteousness will capture their hearts.
Dhanteras—the 13th day after the full moon
The first day of the festival is considered an auspicious, lucky day.
This is the first day of the festival and dedicated to Lakshmi, goddess of prosperity. It is also customary on this day to buy new utensils or jewelry. Little lamps are lit to welcome the goddess.
From The Hindu World Prayer Guide