✔ 1. Diwali (or Deepavali, Sanskrit for “series of lights”) is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in autumn (northern hemisphere) or spring (southern hemisphere) every year. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness or good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. Its celebration includes millions of lights shining on housetops, outside doors and windows, around temples and other buildings in the communities and countries where it is observed. The festival preparations and rituals typically extend over a five-day period, but the main festival night of Diwali coincides with the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali night falls between mid-October and mid-November.
❅ Read a book with an artificial light source on the cover (must be visible on the GR thumbnail, post the cover) -or- read a book first published in October or November (mention the date first published) -or- read a book whose title begins with a letter in “KARTIKA”.
✔ 2. Before Diwali night, people clean, renovate, and decorate their homes and offices. On Diwali night, Hindus dress up in new clothes or their best outfit, light up diyas (lamps and candles) inside and outside their home, participate in family puja (prayers) typically to Lakshmi – the goddess of fertility and prosperity. After puja, fireworks follow, then a family feast including mithai (sweets), and an exchange of gifts between family members and close friends. Deepavali also marks a major shopping period in nations where it is celebrated.
❅ Read a book with a main character who is rich -or- read a book with a dessert on the cover (must be visible on the GR thumbnail, post the cover) -or- read a book which you got free (a gift, ARC, from the library all count).
✔ 3. The religious significance of Deepavali varies regionally within India, depending on the school of Hindu philosophy, regional myths, legends, and beliefs. Some celebrate Diwali in honor of the return of Lord Rama, his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana from exile of 14 years after Rama defeated Ravana. To honor the return of Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana from Lanka and to illuminate their path, villagers lit Diyas. For some, Diwali also celebrates the return of Pandavas after 12 years of Vanvas (exile) and one year of “Agyatavas” (disguise) in Mahabharata. Diwali is also celebrated in honor of the goddess Lakshmi.
❅ Read a book in which a character is sent away from their house for whatever reason -or- read a book in which a royal character plays an important part -or- read book #13 or #14 in a series.
The Girl at the Center of the World by Austin Aslan
✔ 4. In India, the festival formally begins two days before the night of Diwali, and ends two days thereafter. Each day has its own rituals and significance. Day 1 is Dhanteras, this day marks the birth of Lakshmi during the cosmic churning of the ocean, and that of Dhanvantari, the God of Health and Healing, who emerged with a jar of the elixir of immortality (Amruta). It is a day for celebrating wealth, Dhan literally meaning wealth, which makes it a popular shopping day for gold or silver articles. The second day is Naraka Chaturdasi, which marks the day that the asura (demon) Narakasura was killed by Krishna, Satyabhama and Kali. Narakasura was a demon who ruled all the kingdoms of the world, and who threatened the gods with his martial prowess. He also kidnapped 16000 women and held them captive, until Krishna beheaded the demon on the day this battle was fought. Before he died, Narakasura requested that his death be celebrated on earth with colorful lights.
❅ Read a book with a gold or silver colored item on the cover -or- read a book by an author who has died -or- read a book in which a character mistreats women in any way.
Alice on Board by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
✔ 5. On the third night of Diwali is the main festival event, Lakshmi Pooja. Lakshmi is believed to roam the earth on Diwali night. On the evening of Diwali, people open their doors and windows to welcome her, and place diya lights on their windowsills and balcony ledges to invite her in. It is popularly believed that Lakshmi likes cleanliness and will visit the cleanest house first, and the happier she is with the visit, the more she blesses the family with health and wealth. Day 4 is Padwa (or Bali Pratipada), a day to commemorate the victory of god Vishnu in his dwarf incarnation Vamana, defeating Bali, the giant king, and pushing him to the nether world. But Bali was bestowed a boon by Vishnu to return to earth for one day on this day to be honoured and celebrated for his devotion to the Lord and for his noble deeds to his people. The last day of Diwali is Bhai Dooj, which celebrates the bond between siblings. According to a popular legend, this was the day that Krishna visited his sister Subhadra after the slaying of the demon Narakasura, and is thought to be the origin of the festival.
❅ Read a book with a window or door on the cover -or- read a book with a character who is good, but also arrogant -or- read a book with siblings as main characters.
Where Have All the Flowers Gone? by Ellen Emerson White
✔ 6. In Nepal, the other major Hindu nation, Diwali is known as “Tihar”. It is celebrated over the same five day period concurrent with Diwali in India, but the traditions vary. The biggest differences come on the first three days. On the first day (Kaag tihar), crows are given offerings, considering them to be divine messengers. On the second day (Kukur tihar), dogs are given food for their honesty. Gai Tihar and Goru Tihar is celebrated on the third day, where cow and ox are decorated and fed. The fourth day is celebrated as new year. Cultural processions and other celebrations are observed in this day. The Newars celebrate it as “Mha Puja”, a special ritual in which the body is worshipped to keep it fit and healthy for the year ahead on this day. On the fifth and final day called “Bhai Tika”, brothers and sisters meet, garland each other and pray for the other’s well being.
❅ Read a book that is a spinoff or retelling of another story -or- read a book in which animals play an important role in the plot -or- read a book where a new year is rung in.
Those Left Behind and Better Days by Joss Whedon, Brett Matthews, and Will Conrad
✔ 7. Diwali is celebrated with a number of prayers, but one of the most important ones is from the Upanishads (vedic texts containing the main philosophies of Hinduism):
Om Asato Ma Sad Gamaya/Lead us from untruth to truth
Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya/From darkness to light
Mrityor Ma Amritam Gamaya/From death to immortality
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti/Om Peace Peace
❅ Read a book in which religion or philosophy is important -or- read a book whose main character’s first initial starts with a letter in UPANISHAD -or- read a book with verse in it (it could be a novel in verse, or could just include some lines of poetry within the prose).
The Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan
Challenge hosted by The Challenge Factory.