Celebrating Diwali and Tihar in Pennsylvania

By: Narasimha “Nick” Shenoy, Chair, Governor's Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs

October 30, 2016

Every autumn in Pennsylvania and around the world families come together to celebrate Diwali and Tihar, the festival of lights.

Diwali is the shortened Sanskrit word for Deepavali which means “row of lights.” In Nepal, this religious holiday is known as Tihar. Diwali and Tihar is one of the most festive and beautiful times of the year for several religious communities such as Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists.

Diwali and Tihar holds great significance because this holiday represents the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. This year we will begin to celebrate Diwali and Tihar starting on Sunday, October 30th and the celebrations will continue for 5 days after.

For some, Diwali and Tihar marks a new year and a new beginning. Diwali and Tihar is one of the happiest and most meaningful holidays for South Asian American communities and requires significant preparations. The night before Diwali and Tihar people clean out their homes and decorate them for the festivities.

Diwali and Tihar is a meaningful time for families to come together to light up diyas (lamps), participate in family puja (prayers), share in a delicious meal and exchange gifts between loved ones. However, most importantly Diwali and Tihar is an important reminder to each and every one of us that values such as goodness, knowledge and hope are universal guiding principles for all Pennsylvanians.

Wishing everyone a happy Diwali and Tihar!

About the Commission:

The Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs was created by Executive Order and consists of Commissioners that have been appointed by Governor Tom Wolf. GACAPAA is responsible for advising Governor Wolf on policies, procedures and legislation that have an impact on the diverse Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in Pennsylvania. The Commission also serves as a liaison to federal, state and local agencies to ensure that services affecting AAPIs are effectively utilized and promoted; serve as a resource for community groups and provide forums for developing strategies and programs that will expand and enhance the civic, social, education, cultural and economic status of the AAPI communities; identify programs, scholarships, mentoring programs, and resource for the benefit and advancement of AAPIs. The Commission also acts as an advocate for policies and legislation it feels serves the best interest of AAPIs in Pennsylvania.

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