Let Diwali Light Up Your Giving Routine
Also known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali is a joyous time of year, bringing together friends and family for a five-day celebration full of fellowship, fireworks, and feasting. And at the heart of this holiday is giving. It is the kind of festival that everyone can enjoy and be inspired by. Learn more about the Festival of Lights and let its spirit shine through your gives.
Diwali is India’s biggest and brightest holiday and one of the world’s oldest religious celebrations. Originally a Hindu festival, it is also observed by Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists. Many also celebrate Diwali as a harvest festival, national holiday, start of a new fiscal year, and a time to gather and give thanks. It is a highly anticipated time of year celebrated by more than 1 billion people worldwide. While Diwali events and observances vary depending on region or faith, the festival carries a common symbolism for all – the victory of light over darkness, good over evil and hope over despair. Diwali is also embraced as an important time for charitable giving and acts of selfless service.
The presence of lights in different forms is crucial to celebrating this auspicious occasion. The name Diwali (or Deepavali) comes from the Sanskrit word meaning row of lights. Diyas, or the hand-crafted oil lamps originally used in rows to line buildings and walkways, are still used today, along with many other forms of decorative lighting to welcome guests and illuminate this enchanting time of year. Aside from being beautiful and festive, this lighting is intended to dispel darkness and fear and invite Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and well-being, into the home. Fireworks displays are also part of the festivities, lit to celebrate the spiritual victory of good over evil.
While lights are an essential part of the festivities, they are only one element of Diwali. There are many parts and preparations. The time leading up to Diwali is spent in meticulous planning and preparation. Houses and workplaces are thoroughly cleaned and even renovated. Beautifully coloured handmade patterns, called rangoli, decorate homes to welcome guests and bring good luck. Created from fresh flowers or coloured powders and sands, rangolis are often swept away and made fresh daily to remind celebrants that change is constant. Shopping and gift-giving are also a big part of the celebration. At this time of year, families traditionally buy new clothes to attend temple or host religious worship rituals. Like many celebrations, friends and family gather to exchange gifts and enjoy delicious feasts. Traditional gifts include diyas and candles, figurines of the Gods, crockery, sari material, dried fruits and sweets. But there is no end to gift ideas. Today, non-traditional options like electronics, home décor, plants, flowers, and gift vouchers are common.
With so much to be inspired by, let the Festival of Lights guide your gives. Here are a few ways you can start sharing the light of this season with others while also protecting the planet.
Giving Ideas During The Diwali Festival of Lights
- Dressing up to celebrate? Mark the occasion by donating your gently used clothing and footwear to a local family shelter. Better yet, try shopping secondhand and do your part to fight ‘Fast Fashion’ by reducing waste along with your environmental footprint.
- Light up the night with the planet in mind. Trade firecrackers (and the pollutants they give off) for eco-friendly alternatives. Keep the kids entertained with eco-friendly glowsticks, firecracker-shaped pinatas or crafts like fireworks in a jar. Or amaze guests by creating your very own fireworks display on the ceiling with a projector.
- Sprucing up the house? Donate household items to those in need (and keep them out of the landfill). Habitat for Humanity in Canada and The United States offers a free pick-up service to give your gently used furniture, cabinetry, and appliances a second life.
- Ready to make rangolis? Share this joy with others. The connection shared through arts and crafts can impact the life of someone struggling with loneliness and isolation. If the pandemic prevents you from doing this in person, set up a virtual rangoli craft night.
- Planning a Diwali feast? Make giving a group effort and ask everyone attending to bring a non-perishable food item for your local food bank. Keep the collection going by creating a Diwali donation box and getting neighbours and coworkers to pitch in too.
- Wearing disposable face masks while out meeting family, friends, and colleagues this season? Don’t forget to cut the straps off before throwing them away to ensure seabirds and wildlife don’t get tangled in them. Better yet, switch to reusable masks for another opportunity to make a positive environmental impact.
Diwali and its message of bringing light to dark places can enrich your giving routine in many ways. Use these ideas to inspire some of your own during this five day festival. Sign up for a free 365ive membership to start tracking your daily giving and share how Diwali impacted your giving.