The biggest holiday of the year for Hindus around the world, Diwali is celebrated by many including Sikhs and Jains, and marks the triumphs of good over evil. Diwali means “row of lights” in Sanskrit and often Indians light clay lamps outside their home to symbolise the inner light that protects them from spiritual darkness.
Diwali is celebrated around the new moon between the Hindu months of Asvina and Kartika which usually falls between October or November. Family gatherings, glittering clay lamps, festive fireworks, strings of electric lights, bonfires, flowers, sharing of sweets, and worship to Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, fortune, and prosperity are all ways that Diwali is celebrated by many.
Due to the arrival of Indian indentured labourers in Fiji between 1879 and 1916, a Christian dominated island became populated with Hindi Indians. Over the years Diwali is very much celebrated in Fiji, as 37% of the total population account for being Hindi. The Diwali celebration is celebrated by all and is a national holiday in Fiji.
Some iTaukei people, such as 37-year-old Anaseini Lewenivula, take part as well in Diwali celebrations to understand the Hindu religion and Indo-Fijian culture. Cultural and religious tolerance becomes important, as Fiji becomes more diverse.
“With this understanding we can break down the walls that seem to divide us,” says Anaseini who remembers the celebration when she was five years old.
There are five days of Diwali all dedicated to a different purpose.
The first day (called Dhanteras) is celebrated by cleaning and renovating homes and businesses. It is considered good luck to purchase gold or silver items, and at least one or two new kitchen utensils.
The second day (called Chhoti Diwali), people decorate their homes with clay lamps and rangoli – colourful designs created on the floor and pavement using powders, sand, rice, flour, or flower petals.
The third day is Diwali and is the main celebration. This is when families gather to pray. Lakshmi puja is a celebration of three deities: Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth; Ganesh, the elephant-headed god of wisdom; and Kuber, the lord of wealth. Fireworks, music, and food follow once prayers have been done.
The fourth day (called Padwa) is the first day of the new year and is a festive day spent with family and friends exchanging gifts and best wishes for the new season.
The last day (called Bahu-dooj) honours siblings and is celebrated with food, gifts, and parties.
PTINZ wishes you all a Diwali that brings happiness, prosperity, and joy to you and all your family. We celebrated in the office with treats and well wishes for the rest of the year.
- Most Indian Fijians, who account for 37% of the total population are Hindu
- 27.9% total population are Hindu
- Important religious festival originating in India and often associated with just being celebrated by Hindus – but is also celebrated by Sikhs and Jains
- Takes place annually and lasts 5 days marking the start of the Hindu New Year – exact dates change every year, but are determined by the position of the moon, usually between October and November
- Diwali means “row of lights” in an Ancient language of India, called Sanskrit
- People decorate their homes with lights and oil lamps called diyas
- Diwali honours the Hindu goddess of wealth, Lakshmi – the lights and lamps are said to help Lakshmi find her way into people’s homes, bringing prosperity in the year to come
- A celebration of good triumphing over evil
- A time to have fun with family and friends – exchanging gifts and sweets, enjoying delicious feasts, watching fireworks, and wearing new clothes
- Rangoli is a popular Diwali tradition – beautiful patterns made using colourful powders and flowers. People draw rangoli on the ground at the entrance of their homes to welcome the gods and bring good luck
- Stories celebrated are about the triumph of good over evil and are different in the different parts of India.
Information about Anaseini Lewenivula from the Fiji Sun.