Divali (Diwali, Deepavali) is also known as the Festival of Lights, symbolizing the lifting of spiritual darkness. Divali means an array of lamps (deep: lamp; vali: array) and every year it is celebrated by Hindus around the world by the lighting of diyas (small clay pots that contain oil and a cotton wick.) In Trinidad, coconut oil is used to keep the diyas burning.
According to scholars, the origins of Divali are based on both harvesting festivals and legends of India. The illumination and accompanying festivities are in celebration of wealth and prosperity, the New Year and the triumph of good over evil.
This year, the Hindu festival will take place from the 9th – 17th October in Trinidad and Tobago. The events will be held by the National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC) celebrating its 31st anniversary. In 1996, Divali was proclaimed a national holiday in Trinidad and is celebrated by Hindus all around the country with pageants, competitions and the lighting of diyas.
In Trinidad and Tobago, communities all over the islands get together and celebrate the festival. One major celebration that stands out is the Divali Nagar (Village of the Festival of Lights) located in the borough of Chaguanas, Trinidad. This is an annual exposition of Hindu and Indo-Trinidadian culture. The exposition is staged at the Divali Nagar Site.
It features east Indian cultural stage performances, folk theatre involving skits and plays, an exhibition on aspects of Hinduism, displays by Hindu religious sects and social organisations, nightly worship of Lakshmi, lighting of diyas, performances by schools related to Indian culture, and a food court with Indian and non-Indian vegetarian delicacies.
Thousands of people participate in the island-wide festivities. Sports grounds, schools and other public locations such as parks, host Divali Celebrations. Divali celebrations begin with Lakshmi Pooja and continue with the lighting of diyas and plenty of singing, dancing and sharing of meals. The festival culminates with fireworks displays ushering in Divali.
The public holiday in honour of Divali will fall on Wednesday 18th October. Divali Nagar is a highly anticipated event within the Indian and Hindu community.