Children's Hospital Celebrates Diwali

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Diwali celebration group photo CHOP staff dressed in traditional attire for Diwali celebrations. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Cultural Awareness Council celebrated Diwali — India's biggest and most important holiday of the year. Diwali (also called Deepavali or Dipavali) is the festival of lights, which is celebrated every autumn in the northern hemisphere. Nearly a billion people worldwide participate in the celebration, and some countries recognize it as an official holiday.

The festival gets its name from the row of clay lamps (diya or deepa) that Indians light outside their homes to symbolize the inner light that protects us from spiritual darkness. The holiday includes festivities for five days: This year’s Diwali was Nov. 7 – 11. The significance of the festival varies based on region and within the traditions of Hinduism. However, despite the differences, a common symbolism remains — it's an important occasion that marks the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil. With this in mind, people ensure homes are thoroughly cleaned, bright lights are everywhere, and a feast is prepared to celebrate the start of new beginnings.

At CHOP’s Main Campus, in the Atrium and at the Roberts Center for Pediatric Research, staff and patients/families decorated diyas with paints and stickers. They also made greeting cards with well wishes for a prosperous year, and handed out bindis for participants to wear to join in the festivities. A beautifully decorated table was staffed by CHOP employees who wore traditional attire to illustrate the celebration about brightness and light.

The Wanamaker Building celebration was for employees, where staff stopped by the atrium to try delicious dishes (biriyani and samosas) and sweet desserts. Many of our Indian staff dressed in traditional attire and decorated the atrium with battery-powered diyas, flower petals and garland. Staff lined up to try the food, designed their own diyas for their desks, made greeting cards, and just enjoyed the festivities.