Everything you wanted to know about Deepavali

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If you're not sure what Deepavali is really about or what goes on during this festival, our handy guide tells you everything you need to know!

When Deepavali comes around this year, no one will be able to miss it, thanks to the bright lights and vibrancy it brings to our little city-state.

But, do you know what Deepavali is really about? Or maybe you have been invited to a Deepavali party and you are not quite sure what is expected of you.

Not to worry, in this article we tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the Festival of Lights!

indian family Everything you wanted to know about Deepavali

Diwali is a very important occasion for Hindu families in Singapore

Why is Deepavali celebrated?

Simply put, Deepavali is about the triumph of light over dark, or good over evil. Goodness, according to Hinduism refers to the inner light of higher knowledge which dispels the ignorance that masks one’s true nature. This true nature transcends the physical body. With this enlightenment comes compassion and the awareness of the oneness of all things. Usually, the date for Diwali is put on the night of the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu Lunisolar month. This year, it will be held on 10 November.

What do Hindus do to celebrate Deepavali?

The festival of lights is one of the most important occasions to Hindus and the celebrations on this day are both elaborate and colourful. Before the day comes around, Hindus give their homes and offices a thorough sprucing and some even renovate.

On the day itself, lamps are lit within the home, the family offers their prayers to Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth and abundance). Hindus will rise early in the morning to take a ritual oil bath to remove impurities from their bodies. A feast and an exchange of gifts usually follows amongst family and close friends.

Rangoli Everything you wanted to know about Deepavali

A beautiful rangoli outside an Indian house marks Deepavali in Singapore

Many Hindus draw beautiful rangoli – traditional decorative patterns that are vibrant and colouful made with rice flour, often in the shape of lotus flowers – outside their homes to welcome their goddess into their homes.

Click next to find out more about Diwali in Singapore

Diwali Fashion Decoded

Traditional indian lady Everything you wanted to know about Deepavali

Sarees and heavy ornamental gold jewelry are customary during Deepavali.

New clothes are mandatory during the Festival of Lights as it is thought to bring good luck to the wearer for the rest of the year.

In Singapore, most Hindu women wear sarees, but the Punjabi suit, which is a long tunic-like top that is draped on top of a pair of pants, is also a common sight. Hindu men wear a Dhoti, which is a high-collared tunic paired with a pair of snug-fitting pants.

The rule of thumb for Diwali is the more colourful the better. Apparel that might seem over the top on most days is customary for Deepavali. Beyond its intrinsic value, gold holds deep spiritual significant to Hindus as well. Many Hindus go out heavily decked with gold ornaments during this special occasion.

What to expect at a Diwali celebration?

Expect lots of sweet desserts and foodstuff! Traditional Hindu snacks like kulfi, jalebi and pongal are offered to guests. If you are a meat-lover, grab a bite before you head out because many Hindu households might serve only vegetarian dishes on this holy day.

You do not need to dress in a traditional Saree or Dhoti, though if you do have one lying around, it could be fun! Do dress colourfully.

Gifts and money are not expected, but a small box of food is always appreciated, though not mandatory. You should refrain from gifting any sort of alcohol, however.

Look out for religion altars or statues. Some families place a small shrine or a statue at the corner of a room. Be respectful and shoes should not be worn anywhere near these nooks of worship.

When you get to your host’s house, a simple handshake in greeting or “Happy Diwali!” is perfectly acceptable.

Places to visit to celebrate Diwali in Singapore

little india Everything you wanted to know about Deepavali

Little India is a must visit in Singapore during the Festival of Lights

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The light up at Little India is nothing short of spectacular with  30,000 metres of LED lights stretching from Selegie Road to Serangoon and Race Course Road.

While there, do check out the Deepavali night market which is a month long bazaar that sells loads of delicious Indian goodies and other traditional products.

Wishing all our Hindu readers a happy Deepavali! Let us know what else you do during this happy occasion in the comments below.