Festivities for the religious holiday Diwali, celebrated among Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, will look different for many students this year amid the growing pandemic.
Nicknamed the festival of lights, Diwali lasts for five days and is primarily celebrated on the third day, which will fall on Nov. 14 this year.
There are various stories behind the origins of Diwali, many relating to religious texts from thousands of years ago. The common theme of Diwali, however, is to celebrate the triumph of good over evil.
One ritual of the holiday is to engage in a puja, or a prayer for good health, wealth and happiness. For sophomore Riya Patel, the religious aspect of Diwali is a meaningful part of her celebration.
“I usually celebrate Diwali by going to the temple the night of Diwali and watching the fireworks show they put on in order to symbolize the defeat of light over darkness,” Patel said.
While some temples might be closed this year due to COVID-19, Patel will still maintain some aspects of her family’s Diwali traditions.
“One of my favorite parts of Diwali is putting up decorations around our house, especially because all the decorations are so beautiful and colorful,” she said.
Tarini Agrawal, a sophomore who is a member of the UNC Sangam Club, the largest South Asian group on campus, said decorations are a big part of celebrating Diwali.
“My mom decorates our house with lights, and we put diyas around the house,” she said. “Diyas are these little, small candles and always look really pretty. It’s always nice to see the steps of our house lit up.”