Do Muslims Celebrate Diwali?
Diwali (the festival of lights) is one of the most celebrated festivals in the world today. During the festival, the streets of Delhi are decorated with lights, sweets, and colorful clothes at this particular time of the year. Since Hindus and Muslims are only separated by cultural lines, this gets one thinking about whether Muslims celebrate Diwali.
So, do Muslims celebrate Diwali? Diwali is celebrated by some Muslims in support of Hindus in a bid to make the festival memorable for the minority Hindu communities living within Islamic states. Whilst in India, some Muslims celebrate Diwali with their Hindu countrymen. Diwali is a continued tradition where Muslims and Hindus come together to celebrate some of the holiest occasions in both religions.
In Islamic countries where the Hindu population is in a minority, some Muslims can come together to observe some of the cultural events of Hindu society, like Diwali and Holi. Whilst in countries with a predominant Hindu population, like India, with a more plural Hindu society, Indian Muslims remain rooted in the Hindu cultural ethos, such as celebrating Diwali, even though they follow the Islamic religion.
Is Diwali a holiday in Pakistan?
Many religious celebrations such as Diwali and Holi were official public celebrations after Pakistan gained independence. However, over time, these celebrations were slowly made optional. During the ruling of the then military leader Zia-Ul-Haq, Diwali celebrations were completely scrapped in favor of Islamic religion and Islamic festivities alone.
It was not until late April 2015 (after a tiresome struggle in the parliament) that the Pakistan government gazetted and declared Diwali as a public holiday. Today, Diwali is not an optional holiday in Pakistan.
All Muslims, Hindus, and Christians can take part in the festivities of Diwali. After all, just like any other religious festival, Diwali is a time to shed light on the darkness, to share happiness, and most importantly, do away with any religious inclinations.
Since Diwali was declared a public holiday in Pakistan, Hindus and members of the Muslim community in the capital Karachi have always celebrated Diwali together in the Hindu temple of Swaminarayan.
Both Sunni and Shia Muslims join Hindus at the temple and actively participate in making arrangements for the festivals. In a way, Diwali is viewed as a pillar of inter-faith harmony in a country that is otherwise dominantly Muslim. At the same time, it allows other cultures and religions to observe and learn from the Hindu religious culture closely.
Considering that Pakistan already has one of the highest numbers of public holidays globally, the Pakistan government's move to declare Diwali a public holiday is a great move to show the integration between religions that live in the country.
Like most Islam nations around the world, Pakistan was a country that was utterly invested in all their activities. Since Muslims are autonomously the majority in Pakistan, minorities such as Hindus and Christians faced many challenges when it came to observe their cultural and spiritual beliefs. Hindus, for example, were accorded the time to celebrate Diwali. However, this festival was only optional and not mandatory for all people in Pakistan but has become more observed. However, with tensions with India running at an all time high, Diwali celebrations amongst the Pakistani Muslims are less mooted.
Things that you need to know about Diwali
Also known as Deepawali, Diwali is undoubtedly the biggest festival in the Hindu religion. It is a celebration that symbolizes the victory of good over the evil forces. Hindus worldwide celebrate this festival, with the festival's date being calculated by the Hindu Lunar calendar. Due to the nature of the festival, Diwali celebrations are often prepared for weeks before the celebration.
During the Diwali celebrations, houses, buildings, and shops are decorated with rangoli, lights, candles, and diyas. At the same time, families and friends meet to celebrate this occasion by exchanging sweets and many other gifts as children play with crackers and sparklers. Generally, many things happen during this festival.
Here are other things that you should know about the Diwali festival.
Meaning of diwali
Deepavali or Diwali is an Indian term that means rows or avail of traditional clay lamps (Deepa). Due to these lamps, Hindus celebrate the festival by lighting the outside of their homes or businesses with lamps as an indication of victory of light over evil darkness.
Because of these lights, Diwali is also called the festival of lights because, for many people, this festival aims to honor Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Therefore, the lamps are received to guide Lakshmi into the believer's homes and businesses, thus bringing prosperity in the new year.
However, due to the contemporary living and adoption of technology by different cultures, it's rare to find traditional clay lamps being used for lighting during Diwali. As a substitute, Hindu believers use candles or light bulbs to illuminate the occasion.
Diwali is a five day festival
Just like any other festival, Diwali is not a one-day affair. Since it follows the Hindu calendar, Diwali is always a five-day festival. Day one is always set aside for cleaning and shopping for gold. During this day, Hindu believers clean. At the same time, day one is always a day to shop for gold, which has religious significance in the Hindu religion.
On the second day, it's customary for Hindus to decorate their houses and shops. More often, colored sand and clay lamps are used to create beautiful patterns on their houses' floors and walls. Unlike the first two days, day three is always time for family and friends. During this day, families and friends gather together to feast on the best foods and pray.
Day four is always the first day of the new year, according to the Hindu calendar. During this day, families and friends gather together to exchange different gifts and messages of goodwill. The second day of the new year marks the fifth day of the festival. This particular day is set aside for brothers to visit their married sisters. During the visit, brothers often take presents to their sisters and are equally welcomed with a meal.
Diwali is celebrated by many religions
Although Diwali is the biggest festival in the Hindu religion, the festival cuts across religious lines. Across the world, several other religions such as Islam, Sikhism, and Jainism also celebrate Diwali.
Guru Hargobind Ji's escape from Gwalior
As mentioned above, Diwali is celebrated by other religions. Due to this, different religions tend to celebrate this festival for different reasons. Although the Sikhs are the most recent religion to celebrate Diwali, they celebrate the release of their teacher Guru Hargobind from captivity along with several other Hindu kings.
Diwali is big outside India
The number of Indians living outside of India is growing rapidly. While many of these Indian have migrated to the US, UK, Canada and Australia for different reasons, one thing still stands out; they take their religion and beliefs with them. It's for this reason that thousands always turn up annually in the big cities for Diwali celebrations.
In a Nutshell
Diwali is a religious celebration that signifies the beginning of a new year and spreads love across the world. Regardless of one's religion, it's important to note that this occasion is welcoming to everyone without having to consider their beliefs.
Due to this festival's nature, there has been an upsurge in the number of foreign tourists who visit India, specifically for the Diwali holiday. These tourists are often welcomed by native Hindus to join in the celebrations and feel welcomed. Generally, Diwali is a meaningful festival that should be embraced by everyone.