FCPS cancels school on Monday for Diwali, the festival of lights


Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is a “festival of lights” that honors all the blessings of victory, freedom, and enlightenment as well as the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. The name, which translates as “row of lights,” is derived from Sanskrit, a South Asian ancient language that is a member of the Indo-Aryan family of languages. It is usual to light candles and lamps on Diwali. In order to illuminate the night sky, they are typically positioned inside of residences and along streets.

In most of India, Diwali consists of a five-day celebration peaking on the third day with the main celebration of Diwali. In other places where Diwali occurs, usually only the main day is celebrated.

The first day Indians clean their homes and create different Rangoli designs (traditional Indian form of decoration consisting of patterns made with ground rice ). The second day is normally spent preparing or buying food. The third is normally the main day of Diwali, where families gather and celebrate. Traditions of the fourth day may vary depending on family traditions but oftentimes a husband and wife will celebrate the relationship by buying each other gifts. The fifth day celebrates the bond between siblings.

Every year, during the Hindu month of Kartik, Diwali takes place in the autumn (or spring in the southern hemisphere). On the day of the new Moon, which is the darkest day of the lunar month, Diwali is celebrated. Since the primary Diwali festival occurs on the new moon, when the sky is at its darkest, a significant theme of the celebration centers on light. In homes, on streets, and in places of worship, candles and lanterns are lit and placed.

The three major faiths that celebrate Diwali are those of Hinduism, Sikhism, and Jainism. Additionally, it is observed in Singapore, India, and several other South Asian nations. Communities of Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains frequently observe Diwali in the UK, the US, and other parts of the world.

For each Indian belief system, Diwali recalls a distinct event. The Hindu American Foundation states Diwali celebrates the 14-year-long exile of Prince Rama of Ayodhya, his wife Sita, and brother Lakshman, as well as the victory of Prince Rama over King Ravana. For those who follow Jainism, it is the day that Lord Mahavira, the last of the Jain Tirthankaras, attained nirvana. For Sikhs, it commemorates the liberation of Guru Hargobind, who is the sixth guru from emperor Jahangir. For Buddhists it’s a celebration of the great emperor Ashoka embracing Buddhism as his faith.

Family is a major Diwali motif. Assembling in their finest new attire, sharing carefully prepared meals, and praying for their ancestors On Diwali, businesses typically close early or don’t open at all to give employees time to celebrate with their families.

There are many special meals families make for diwali. One is Sanjeevini Peanut-Butter Burfi which are traditional burfis made with condensed milk, sugar, and gram flour. Another is Apple Grape Halwa. Halwa is a sweet confection that is offered throughout the Indian subcontinent, Central and West Asia, North Africa, and the Balkans. It is thick and frequently gelatinous. Various components, such as flour, nuts, fruits, or vegetables, can be used to make it. To provide texture to the gooey, sweet halwas, nuts and dry fruits are typically decorated. Dry fruit burfi is also a common snack eaten on diwali, they are a quick snack which consists of figs, dates, pistachios, almonds, cashew nuts, and walnuts and is a delightful quick treat.

“Every year my family and I put up lights around our house, cook a lot of food, invite friends over and more. We like to celebrate with people who aren’t familiar with the culture so we can share our culture.” said senior Trisha Raja.

This year, Diwali will be celebrated on Monday October 24, 2022. Fairfax county has made Diwali a student holiday, allowing the students who celebrate get the day off to spend time with families and friends. 

“This is FCPS’s first year giving us off on Diwali. It’s really nice because in years past I was marked as being absent and would end up falling behind on my classes. FCPS making the decision to close school on Monday is a great step toward a more inclusive environment for all.” Raja said.

FCPS’ board has implemented a calendar to recognize and respect religious and cultural observances. The calendar makes sure that students won’t have to decide between respecting their religious or cultural observance or their schoolwork. It recognizes 15 religious and cultural observances during the academic year and separates Good Friday from Spring Break.

Other schools across the country have also been deciding to close school on Diwali. New York City mayor, Eric Adams, announced that Diwali would be a public holiday from next year. This means students would have the day off of school.