Diwali: The Festival of Lightsby Gregory Mathias, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
The Hindu celebration of Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, begins Sunday, Oct. 30. It’s a five-day celebration that holds deep significance for your Hindu friends, neighbors and co-workers.
Here are a few things to know about Diwali:
Lights and firecrackers are everywhere during this time.
Diwali is a bright and loud celebration. As one friend related to me, “Imagine putting your head in a trashcan and beating the can. The ringing in your ears almost approaches the same level during the festivities surrounding Diwali.” Homes, businesses and streets are transformed with lights, candles and other decorations. The lights serve as a sign of respect to the heavens. Beyond the lights, there is a lot of noise during this celebration due to firecrackers and music. Setting off firecrackers and playing loud music demonstrate the joy of the people.
Each day has its own meaning.
While different regions may celebrate with slight variations, the themes of worship, commemoration of various gods, light overcoming darkness, prosperity and family are a part of this five-day festival. Diwali is a celebration for the entire family and the whole community.
Diwali represents the triumph of good over evil.
The Diwali celebration is a happy one for Hindus. The physical lights are a spiritual reminder to Hindus of the hope of being lifted out of spiritual darkness.
The calendar and festivals, like Diwali, are your friends.
For many of your Hindu friends, neighbors and co-workers, Diwali is nothing more than a cultural time of celebration with lights and sound. These days on the calendar provide a natural reminder to pray for them and to enter deeper into their world as a friend.
Diwali shows that Hindus are a deeply spiritual and celebratory people. It would be easy to see the lights, hear the music and even appreciate some of the themes of Diwali through a tourist’s lens. As a believer though, you must not let the shine of the lights blind you to the fact that Hindus are a people living in darkness, nor can you let the noise of the music drown out their need to hear the gospel of Jesus.
Here are a couple of practical suggestions to go and pray during Diwali:
- To an Indian restaurant during these five days. Try some new food, meet some new friends and ask questions about Diwali.
- To the Hindus around you and ask them about Diwali. What is Diwali? Why do you celebrate it? How do you celebrate? Then see if you can spend time with them as they celebrate. Finally, look for opportunities to share with them why you celebrate new life in Christ.
- For those living and working among Hindus. South Asia represents the most concentrated spot of lostness on the planet. Many have gone to work among Hindus in South Asia. Pray that these five days of celebration will afford many opportunities to share about the true light of the world (John 8:12).
- For those who celebrate Diwali around the world. Pray that they would be lifted out of spiritual darkness and that the god of this age would no longer blind them to the light of the gospel (2 Corinthians 3-6).
As you get to know your Hindu friends, neighbors and co-workers a bit better, remember to pray for them and allow the light and words of the gospel to shine brighter and ring louder than the lights and sounds of Diwali.
Editor's note: This article originally appeared in a blog post by Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.