Diwali, the Festival of Lights, took over Bellevue Square on Oct. 19 in celebration of one of India’s most honored holidays.
The event was supported by the Bellevue Collection and the Seattle Maharashtra Mandal community and shoppers experienced an assortment of traditional Indian performances of dance, visual arts, craft stations and music while window shopping.
Diwali celebrations go on for five days, and each day has its own significance. The purpose of Diwali is to welcome in the new year and the happiness and prosperity for the future to come. It is also the festival of lights and a main reason the festival is brightly colored is to symbolize the victory of good over evil.
During the five days, people celebrate in various ways with specific rules. On the first day, some people decorate their homes with lanterns and rangoli (patterns made with colorful sand petals) and gralands to represent prosperity and growth of wealth, while on another day, festivalgoers exchange gifts to celebrate the bond between brothers and sisters.
While the festival is steeped with symbolic messages, traditions and rituals, the roots of Diwali originated from the old agrarian days in India.
Kalyani Varadpande, event organizer, said the geographical reason to celebrate Diwali is because India is an agricultural country and farming is one of the most prevalent occupations.
During the calendar year, Diwali comes after all the crops have been grown and are now being sold. Varadpande explained Diwali is one way farmers could celebrate the money earned and show their thanks. Farmers and business people also used Diwali as a signifier to start their new bookkeeping for the year.
Varadpande said India has seen a shift in job occupations as country becomes more tech based. This shift has also changed the focus of Diwali.
“Our lives are very busy these days, in the olden days life was more quiet,” Varadpande said. “But because of our busy schedules, the IT industry, we have a very busy life. So, these five days are meant to be used as our family time.”