Festival of Lights: East Texas Hindus celebrate Diwali

Published on Friday, 15 November 2013 22:27 - Written by By Rebecca Hoeffner rhoeffner@tylerpaper.com

110913_Diwali_33web photo by Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph Michael Lukose, 5, and sister Keerthna Lukose, 6, both of Dallas, wear clothes from Kerala, a state in the southwest region of India, as part of a fashion show during The Tastes of India Diwali Banquet held Saturday Nov. 9 at the University of Texas at Tyler Ornelas Activity Center. The event was presented by the Indian Association of East Texas at the UT Tyler Indian Student Association. Diwali is a Hindu festival literally meaning "rows of lighted lamps" and celebrates different legends of good over evil from different regions of India. For Indians in Gujarat, Diwali honors Lakshimi, the goddess of wealth, and lamps are lit to help her find her way into people's homes. The festival calls for house cleaning, the wearing of new clothes, exchanging gifts, decorating with lights, lighting fireworks and preparing festive meals.
110913_Diwali_02web photo by Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph Naina Baines and Simar Baines of Tyler wear clothes from Punjab, a state in northwest India, during The Tastes of India Diwali Banquet held Saturday Nov. 9 at the University of Texas at Tyler Ornelas Activity Center. The event was presented by the Indian Association of East Texas at the UT Tyler Indian Student Association. Diwali is a Hindu festival literally meaning "rows of lighted lamps" and celebrates different legends of good over evil from different regions of India. For Indians in Gujarat, Diwali honors Lakshimi, the goddess of wealth, and lamps are lit to help her find her way into people's homes. The festival calls for house cleaning, the wearing of new clothes, exchanging gifts, decorating with lights, lighting fireworks and preparing festive meals.
110913_Diwali_30web photo by Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph Samit Darne of Tyler dances with six-month-old Krisha Darne wearing clothes from Maharastra, a state in the western region of India, as part of a fashion show during The Tastes of India Diwali Banquet held Saturday Nov. 9 at the University of Texas at Tyler Ornelas Activity Center. The event was presented by the Indian Association of East Texas at the UT Tyler Indian Student Association. Diwali is a Hindu festival literally meaning "rows of lighted lamps" and celebrates different legends of good over evil from different regions of India. For Indians in Gujarat, Diwali honors Lakshimi, the goddess of wealth, and lamps are lit to help her find her way into people's homes. The festival calls for house cleaning, the wearing of new clothes, exchanging gifts, decorating with lights, lighting fireworks and preparing festive meals.
110913_Diwali_58web photo by Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph Members of the Tyler Indian community, as well as their friends and family members, dance during The Tastes of India Diwali Banquet held Saturday Nov. 9 at the University of Texas at Tyler Ornelas Activity Center. The event was presented by the Indian Association of East Texas at the UT Tyler Indian Student Association. Diwali is a Hindu festival literally meaning "rows of lighted lamps" and celebrates different legends of good over evil from different regions of India. For Indians in Gujarat, Diwali honors Lakshimi, the goddess of wealth, and lamps are lit to help her find her way into people's homes. The festival calls for house cleaning, the wearing of new clothes, exchanging gifts, decorating with lights, lighting fireworks and preparing festive meals.
110913_Diwali_54web photo by Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph Members of the Tyler Indian community, as well as their friends and family members, dance during The Tastes of India Diwali Banquet held Saturday Nov. 9 at the University of Texas at Tyler Ornelas Activity Center. The event was presented by the Indian Association of East Texas at the UT Tyler Indian Student Association. Diwali is a Hindu festival literally meaning "rows of lighted lamps" and celebrates different legends of good over evil from different regions of India. For Indians in Gujarat, Diwali honors Lakshimi, the goddess of wealth, and lamps are lit to help her find her way into people's homes. The festival calls for house cleaning, the wearing of new clothes, exchanging gifts, decorating with lights, lighting fireworks and preparing festive meals.
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The Indian Association of East Texas and the Indian Student Association at the University of Texas in Tyler held their Diwali celebration on Nov. 9.

According to Indian mythology and Hindu belief system, the god Rama was sent off into the wilderness along with his wife Sita and brother Laxman, according to a written release from organizers. After many years, they returned having conquered evil.

Diwali, also known as The Festival of Lights, is a celebration of good over evil and the return of Rama, Sita and Laxman. Worldwide celebrations took place Nov. 2 and 3.

“Traditionally, an effigy of evil (the multi-headed demon king) is burnt in public and everyone decorates their homes, patios and terraces with small clay lamps,” according to the written release. People wear nice clothes, serve sweets and give gifts.

The traditional Diwali celebration goes on for four to five days with each day allotted for specific worship of a specific deity. For example, the goddess of wealth, Laxmi, is worshipped one day and everyone brings out their checkbooks, bankbooks and ledgers and worships them.

In general, it’s a day when everyone celebrates with coming together for a meal, giving gifts, singing and dancing.

“It’s the Indian new year on the lunar calendar,” said Smita Prasad, event organizer. “We clean our house and hope for a healthy new year.”

In Tyler, this event started as a potluck between local Indian families and was hosted in the cafeteria of Whitehouse High School almost 10 years ago. Since then it has grown every year.

This year’s event was held at the Ornelas Activity Center. More than 275 tickets were sold last year.

Members of the Indian associations will wear traditional Indian clothes such as sarees, hajamas, kartas or lenghas.