Did You Know? Diwali
Facts, Figures & Folklore about
the Hindu Festival of Light
Did you know that Diwali, the primary Hindu holiday, is known as the "Festival of Lights"?
For five days, homes are illuminated in the glow of dazzling lights -- from modest oil lamps (diyas) and candles to spectacular fireworks. Diwali literally means "row of oil lamps".
Did you know that there are five days of Diwali, each with its own unique traditions and mythologies?
The third day is the pinnacle of the festival, when families light their oil lamps (divas, diyas) to illuminate the world with knowledge.
Did you know that there seems to be some confusion surrounding the actual spelling of Diwali?
Part of this confusion may be due to the many different languages and dialects spoken within India as well as someone's location in India. In the northern areas of India the festival is referred to as Diwali, while in the southern parts of the country it is called Deepavali.
Some of the different spellings one might encounter include: Divali, Deepavali and Deepawali. But rest assured all refer to the same holiday -- Diwali!
Did you know that Hindus believe that wealth is a karmic reward for good deeds in a past life?
On the third day of Diwali, Hindus worship the goddess of wealth, known as Lakshmi, and call on her to bring wealth and prosperity into their lives.
Did you know that sweet pastries are traditionally served during the Festival of Diwali?
Two of the most popular treats are laddus -- sweet wheat balls filled with dried nuts and fruit -- and karanjis -- deep fried, flour dumplings stuffed with a coconut and sugar.
Did you know that the term, Hindu, means Indian, but it is not a native Indian word?
It was actually introduced millennia ago by a foreigner in referring to people of northern India. The term came to refer to all adherents of the religion -- whether or not they lived in India.
Did you know that Hinduism is the world's oldest religion, with its sacred texts dating back to the middle of the 6th century BCE?
Many historians believe that the early Hindu practices can be dated as far back as the 10th century BCE.
Did you know that Hinduism is the third largest religion, with over one billion adherents?
Christianity and Islam outpace Hinduism in worldwide numbers with 2.1 billion Christians and 1.5 million Moslems.
Did you know that Hindus believe in one all-powerful Absolute, called Brahman?
Hinduism, however, is classified as a polytheistic faith, however, because aspects of the Brahman are represented by thousands of gods and goddesses, including Brahma (Creator), Vishnu (Preserver), Shiva (Destroyer), and Lakshmi (Wealth). In fact, Hindu is said to be a religion of a million and one gods.
Did you know that one out of every seven people on the planet is a Hindu living in India?
The majority of Hindus live in India, although there are also significant Hindu populations in Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Fiji, African, Europe and North America. About one million Hindus live in the United States, for example.
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