Frisconians celebrate Festival of LightsNov 12, 2021 ● By Madhavi Nair and Shruti Nair
By Madhavi Nair and Shruti Nair
Special to FriscoSTYLE
The Indian festival of lights, called Diwali or Deepavali, was celebrated with great enthusiasm Nov. 2-6 by many Hindu families who call Frisco home.
The Diwali celebration symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. The accompanying festival lasts for five days and takes place at the end of the last month of the Hindu lunar calendar.
In preparation for the festival, many families cleaned their homes and created colorful rangoli (designs made of colored rice, sand or flowers) on the floor. Prayers were offered to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and health. Indian sweets, called mithai, were made and shared with friends and family.
Mandakini Murthy, who migrated 11 years ago to United States, resides with her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren in Frisco’s Richwood neighborhood.
During Diwali, she said her family carried out a pooja, which is an offering and prayer to the Hindu goddess Laxmi. They wore new clothes and decorated their homes with lamps. Also, children took blessings of adults by touching their feet. According to the Hindu tradition, when you touch the feet of an elder person, you are in turn blessed with knowledge, intellect, strength and fame.
"Back home, the lamps were lit using oil and wicks. Now there are store-bought tealight candles, which are easy to use,” she said. The lamps are lit as a symbolic invitation to Lakshmi to enter and bestow the household with health, wealth and prosperity.
Having raised her family in India before moving to the U.S., Murthy said that many Indian immigrants try to follow all rituals and culture more passionately than Indians living in India because they want future generations to connect to their Indian roots. “Parents go the extra mile to make sure that they celebrate all the Indian festivals and follow rituals so that kids are aware of these traditions.”
Earlier this month, she participated in Diwali celebrations in her neighborhood and said she was impressed by how the community came together and helped organize events.
“It’s a true community celebration, which transgresses religions and borders. You see people come together to celebrate the victory of light over darkness,” Murthy said. “Nowadays, the celebrations are a perfect amalgamation of the old and the new so that they appeal to the new generation."
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Diwali celebrations in 2020 were muted. However, this year the community largely celebrated with a renewed spirit.
The Karya Hanuman Temple in Frisco had sizeable crowds visit to celebrate the festival. Meanwhile, shops specializing Indian food and other goods saw long lines as customers purchased items in preparation of the event.
Many Frisco ISD students, who were given an excused absence for religious purposes, skipped classes and remained at home to celebrate with friends and family during the festival.
"It’s the Indian version of Christmas,” Murthy said. “Just like Christmas, (Diwali is) all about lights, sweets and spending time with family and friends.”
Madhavi Nair is an IT professional and Frisco resident who is actively involved in organizing events within the local Indian community.
Shruti Nair is a Centennial High School sophomore.