This week has seen the observation of Diwali or Deepavali by many millions of people across the world, from South and South-East Asia to the Caribbean and beyond, and from different faith communities (or none). Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and some Buddhist communities all mark this Festival of Lights with different events and narratives, but central to them all is the celebration of the symbolic victory of good over evil, knowledge over ignorance.
You can view the University of Adelaide’s official Diwali/Deepavali greeting here.
Here in the Faculty, we asked some colleagues what the holiday means to them and share below two responses from the Adelaide Business School. These are not intended to be exhaustive of the many ways in which Diwali / Deepavali signifies for some of our staff and students. We wish them all a happy, healthy, and safe celebration.
Dr Rajeev Kamineni (Adelaide Business School) writes:
"Deepavali, it means a row of lights or lamps. Deepam is a lamp and vali is a row or way. This festival of lights is called Deepavali in South India (the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, and Kerala) and also in Malaysia and Singapore. The rest of India celebrates it as Diwali(Diya in Hindi means a lamp).
This was one holiday I looked forward to as a kid, waking up early because there was so much to do. After getting ready early in the morning and wearing new clothes the feasting starts with a sumptuous spread for both breakfast and lunch. Sweets are distributed between friends and family, and we try to pack in as many visits as possible. Then in the evening we burst firecrackers till late into the night.
Setting aside the religious significance, it is one festival where family and friends get together and celebrate end of a year and usher in another. Of course, there is always Mom’s special dessert which tastes extra divine on this particular day. It is indeed a festival that lights up homes and hearts—that is what Deepavali means to me."
Dr Richa Gulati (Adelaide Business School) writes:
"Diwali is more of an emotion than just a festival for me. It is known as the festival of lights, and it does what exactly lights do illuminate. The word just brings a smile and a whole lot of excitement to everyone. The meaning may vary in the sense it could be a smile of hope, a smile for an upcoming excitement, a smile thinking of gifts, etc., but all you see are lovely sparkling and glittering faces. That is the most beautiful aspect of Diwali, that it has something in store for each and everyone.
Diwali for me is an avenue to decorate my house, and welcome goddess Lakshmi (goddess of wealth) and Lord Ganesha (remover of obstacles) to bless the house, invite friends to celebrate and exchange gifts, cook delicious food, forget differences and mistakes, appreciate love and togetherness, and to dress up.
It is almost the end of the year, and the festival itself celebrates the victory of good over evil and the triumphant return of Lord Rama to his home. I always take some time to reflect on the year so that I can count my blessings and be thankful for them!"
A reminder that the ABLE Executive welcomes suggestions or advice about appropriate greetings and notifications for significant events in the coming months.
Professor Andrew van der Vlies (he/him)
Deputy Dean People and Culture
Faculty of Arts, Business, Law, and Economics