Those aren’t Christmas lights: Norwood is celebrating Diwali.
“Diwali is the most colorful, most delightful and most loud festival you will see celebrated in India,” Sasanka Gridalur said. “In our household, we light our house with decorative lights right before Diwali and let it go until the New Year.”
This means some Norwood houses will be lit up from Oct. 20 through 2015. Diwali, also called Deepavali and the festival of lights, in an ancient Hindu festival celebrated at the end of the rainy season. It originated in India, but has spread and is now celebrated worldwide, in Japan, South Africa, the United Kingdom and even Norwood.
Together Yes sponsored at sponsored a Diwali celebration at the Morrill Memorial Library on Thursday, Oct. 16. The event aimed to educate the public about the celebration and introduce Norwood to a religion celebrated by some of the residents in town.
“We have a significant Indian population here in Norwood. We need to know our neighbors and these are our neighbors,” Together Yes founder Susan Clare said. “I asked if they would help and do this, reach out a little bit and share some of the beauty of their biggest festival of the year.”
Gridalur agreed, and the Simoni Room at the library was decorated with traditional Diwali lights and rangavalli, traditional Indian folk art made using color rice and dried flour. Many Indian sweets and candies were served to those in attendance.
“What is offered to the gods is then eaten by everyone as our feast, so we make a lot of sweets for this festival,” Gridalur said.
He started the presentation with a traditional prayer and then explained some of the significance of the festival. There are numerous myths associated with the celebration, and with these myths come the various traditions.
“Diwali is the celebration of Lakshmi, the goddess of money, wealth and happiness. When we want good things, they are given by Lakshmi,” Gridalur said. “All Hindus know the women of the house are the Goddess Lakshmi. Goddess is a woman. You should see Goddess in every women and always treat them with respect.”
Several Hindu women, including Padmashree Akkole, were involved in decorating the Simoni Room and painting Henna tattoos on those in attendance. Prior to the celebration, she spent 30 minutes designing the rangavalli.
“In India, we would put rice in front of our home. It cleanses the house,” she said. “It is very auspicious and it pleases the gods.”
Clare said Together Yes is considering hosting another celebration next year. The celebration certainly drew the attention of the community, as more people tried to sign up than the Simoni Room could hold.
“This would not have happened, nor would it have been as lovely, without the Indians who decorated, cooked festival treats, and prepared the presentation,” Clare said.