Hindu festivals are a colorful combination of rituals and celebrations. They occur at various times each year, each with a unique purpose. Some festivals focus on personal purification, others on warding off evil influences. Many celebrations are times for the extended family to gather for a renewal of relationships.
Since Hindu festivals relate to the cyclical life of nature, they may last for many days, with specific activities each day. Diwali lasts five days and is called the “Festival of Lights,” representing a new beginning and the triumph of light over darkness.
Day 1: “Dhanters”
This first day is dedicated to Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity. Purchasing jewelry or new utensils is customary.
Day 2: “Choti Diwali”
On this day, Lord Krishna is said to have destroyed the demon Narakasur, freeing the world from fear. Hindus typically stay home and cleanse themselves with oil.
Day 3: “Diwali”
(The day of the new moon)—This is the most important day of the festival. Celebrants clean their houses to welcome the goddess Lakshmi. Men and women put on new clothes, the women wear new jewelry, and family members exchange gifts. Oil lamps are lit inside and outside the home, and people light firecrackers to banish evil spirits.
Day 4: “Padwa”
Mythology recounts that on this day, Krishna lifted the mountains on his little finger to protect the people from the rain god Indra.
Day 5: Bhai Dooj
This day is dedicated to brothers and sisters. Sisters put a red tilak (mark) on their brothers’ foreheads and pray for a prosperous life, while brothers bless their sisters and give them presents.
The Diwali festival is when Hindus celebrate with family and look forward to a prosperous year. During this time, Hindus are most open to spiritual influence.
The origins of Hinduism reach back to the Indus Valley Civilization, which flourished around 2500 BC. The development of Hinduism as a religious and philosophical system then evolved over the centuries. No known “founder” of Hinduism exists—no Jesus, Buddha, or Mohammad—but ancient texts known as the Vedas, composed between 1500 and 500 BC, provide insights into the region’s early religious beliefs and rituals. Over time, Hinduism absorbed ideas from different religious traditions, including Buddhism and Jainism, while retaining its core principles and concepts.
Hinduism encompasses many beliefs, making it a diverse and inclusive religion. However, most Hindus accept certain fundamental concepts. Central to Hinduism is the faith in dharma, the moral and ethical duties individuals must follow to lead a righteous life. Hindus also believe in the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth (samsara), guided by the law of karma, which states that actions have consequences. Moksha, liberation from the cycle of rebirth, is the ultimate spiritual goal.
Additionally, Hindus worship a multitude of deities, revering Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, and Devi, among others.
With more than 1.2 billion adherents worldwide, Hinduism is the 3rd largest religion. Most Hindus live in India, but Hindu communities and temples are found in almost every country.
Approximately 15% of the world’s population identifies as Hindu. Unlike most other belief systems, very little information is available on how someone can become Hindu or leave the religion. Due to the caste system, historical precedence, and a traditional worldview, Hinduism is essentially a “closed” religion. One is born a Hindu, and that is the way it is.
Hindus are the second largest least reached people in the world. Accessing the Hindu community is extremely difficult for outsiders, particularly missionaries from the West.
Hinduism includes dozens of unique languages and people groups, many living in tight-knit rural areas. The Indian government recognizes 22 individual “official” languages, but in reality, more than 120 languages are spoken with numerous additional dialects.
Portions of the Bible are translated in approximately 60 of these languages.
“Vihaan is one of the key leaders in the Church Planting Movement. He has planted churches in over 200 villages in North India and trained many other pastors and leaders. He is an ordinary man doing extraordinary things for God’s Kingdom. He is extremely humble and dedicated to obeying the commands of Jesus.”
“Once, he prayed for a child, and the child was raised from the dead. The child had been dead for a few hours, but after Vihaan laid his hands on him and prayed for him, God brought the boy back to life.”
“Through this miracle, many people came to Christ and received not only physical healing but also eternal life.”