Luther Diwali festival celebrates light in the face of winter

20521002_p_topAs we face shorter days and cooler temperatures, students at Luther College in Decorah will offer a reminder of the world’s light and warmth.

This month, Luther College will observe Diwali. According to the college Diversity Center, Diwali is the Hindu Festival of Light. It is observed in autumn of every year in an effort to celebrate victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil and hope over despair.

The Diversity Center and Interfaith Student Association will host the celebration Oct. 26 in Peace Dining Room of Dahl Centennial Union. It will begin at 7 p.m. with a brief program. Light refreshments will be served afterward. The event is free and open to the community.

Sponsors include Luther’s Asian Students and Allies Association, Diversity Center, Interfaith Student Association and College Ministries. Their goal is to help Hindu students share their traditions and educate students and community members of all religious backgrounds about Diwali.

Luther will host interfaith holiday celebrations throughout the year to give students opportunities to share their personal traditions. Later this semester, the college will present a Kwanza celebration. For information, go to

This year, Diwali will begin Thursday in the United States. It is an annual celebration and important Hindu festival. The word comes from “Deepavali,” a Sanskrit word that means “rows of light,” writes author Grant Lee.

The festival originates from the celebration of Lord Rama’s return after 14 years of exile, Lee explains in “15 Weird facts You Don’t Know about Diwali.”

According to the Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India, the five-day celebration is among the nation’s largest festivals and holds significance to Hindus worldwide.

Light is a significant Hindu symbol of goodness, joy and happiness. Each day of Diwali is a reminder good triumphs over evil. To that end, oil lamps are burned day and night throughout Diwali to ward off evil.

Celebrations are marked by regional variations. Commonalities include entertaining at home and special meals, wearing their finest clothing, exchanging gifts with loved ones, community firework displays and decorating homes with “diyas,” or lamps and candles.

Diwali begins with Dhanteras, a day for shopping, especially for gold and silver items. This day honors Dhanvantari, the goddess of healing and well-being.

Lakshmi Puja takes place the first evening. It honors Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, with puja, or prayers, notes SCFI.

To welcome Lakshmi, homes receive a thorough cleaning and even renovations. Special decorations include rangoli designs, which are drawn on entrances and doorsteps. Other deities are honored throughout the remainder of Diwali, with differences depending on regional traditions.

More information, such as history, recipes and songs, is available at