By Aanya Sethi
Deepavali, or Diwali, is the Indian festival of lights. It is celebrated all across the world by four major religions: Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism. Many students and faculty members at Pinewood celebrate the holiday every year.
Deepavali commemorates the defeat of the demon-king Ravana by Lord Ram. The story of Ram and his beloved wife Sita begins with the royal family of the city Ayodhya. Ram was the first son of the first wife of king Dashartha, thus Ram was next in line to the throne. This upset the king’s second wife, Kaikeyi, who wanted her son to be king after Dashartha stepped down.
Soon after Dashartha married Kaikeyi, he promised to fulfill one of her wishes, uncontested. Kaikeyi used this wish to ensure that her son Bharatha would be king. She demanded that Ram be banished to the forest for 14 years, in which time Bharatha would be old enough to take the throne. Everyone, including Bharatha, became upset, but Ram told his father to honor his promise. So it was decided that Ram would be sent to the forest. Sita, Ram’s wife, and Lakshman, Ram’s brother, feared for his safety, so they volunteered to go with him.
Ten years into their exile, king Ravana of the kingdom Lanka, now Sri Lanka, fell in love with Sita and kidnapped her. Ram and Lakshman had to overcome many obstacles to find and save Sita, but ultimately Ravana was defeated, and Sita was saved. By this time, their four years of exile had elapsed and they could return to Ayodhya.
The day Ram, Sita, and Lakshman arrived in their hometown was the day of Deepavali. To celebrate their return, the people of Ayodhya lit up the whole city with diyas, small painted lamps made with clay, and painted colorful rangolis, intricate designs made with colored powder.
Today, Deepavali is still celebrated with rangolis and diyas, but also with fireworks and sparklers. It honors the triumph of good over evil and reminds us to fight the evil ourselves, whether the evil is external or internal.
Junior Nikhila Nanduri celebrates Deepavali every year. Nanduri and her family celebrate by eating traditional food and playing with sparklers in her backyard. She is one of the many students at Pinewood that celebrate this holiday. With that being said, Pinewood is yet to incorporate these celebrations into school life.
“There are so many fun ways to celebrate Diwali, [Pinewood] should have people bring in food, do henna, bring chalk, and draw rangolis,” Nanduri said.
Deepavali reminds millions of people every year of Lord Ram’s great defeat of evil and the present everlasting need to do good.
“Diwali is a celebration of all that is good and it reminds me to embrace the light of life,” Nanduri said.