Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights

Diwali also known as Deepavali and the “Festival of Lights”, is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in autumn every year. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. The festival preparations and rituals typically extend over a five day period, but the main festival night of Diwali coincides with the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali night falls between mid-October and mid-November.

Before Diwali night, people clean, renovate and decorate their homes. On Diwali night, Hindus dress up in new clothes or their best outfit, light up diyas (lamps and candles) inside and outside their home, participate in family puja typically to Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth and prosperity. After puja (prayers), fireworks follow, then a family feast including mithai (sweets), and an exchange of gifts between family members and close friends. Diwali also marks a major shopping period in nations where it is celebrated. Diwali is an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji.

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A potter carries a basket filled with clay money boxes at a workshop ahead of the Hindu festival of Diwali in New Delhi October 16, 2014. (Photo by Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters)

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A potter makes clay lamps ahead of the Hindu festival of Diwali in Agartala, capital of Tripura, October 9, 2011. (Photo by Jayanta Dey/Reuters)

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Children of potters carry earthen lamps to dry at a workshop ahead of the Hindu festival of Diwali at Noida in Uttar Pradesh October 18, 2010. (Photo by Parivartan Sharma/Reuters)

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A potter carries a basket filled with clay money boxes at a workshop ahead of the Hindu festival of Diwali in New Delhi October 16, 2014. (Photo by Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters)

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A potter prepares to make earthen pots at a workshop ahead of the Hindu festival of Diwali in New Delhi October 16, 2014. (Photo by Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters)

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A potter makes earthen lamps at his workshop before the Hindu festival of Diwali in Ahmedabad October 9, 2014. (Photo by Amit Dave/Reuters)

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A potter arranges earthen lamps at a workshop for the upcoming Diwali festival in Kolkata October 13, 2011. (Photo by Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters)

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A potter works inside her workshop of earthen lamps ahead of the Hindu festival of Diwali in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh October 12, 2008. The lamps are used during Diwali, the annual Hindu festival of lights, to decorate homes. (Photo by Ajay Verma/Reuters)

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A woman puts out earthen lamps to dry in the sun at her workshop ahead of the Hindu festival of Diwali in Chandigarh October 23, 2013. (Photo by Ajay Verma/Reuters)

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Subir Paul, an Indian worker, sprays paint while working on an idol of the Hindu elephant god Ganesh in the eastern Indian city of Calcutta on October 21, 2003. Earthen lamps are sold in large numbers during Diwali, the annual Hindu festival of lights. (Photo by Sucheta Das/Reuters)

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Potters colour earthen lamps at a workshop ahead of the Hindu festival of Diwali in Amritsar October 15, 2014. Earthen lamps are sold in large numbers during Diwali, the annual Hindu festival of lights, as people use them to decorate their homes. (Photo by Munish Sharma/Reuters)

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A man paints earthen lamps at his workshop ahead of the Hindu festival of Diwali in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata October 24, 2007. The lamps are used during Diwali, the annual Hindu festival of lights, to decorate homes. (Photo by Parth Sanyal/Reuters)

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A worker paints earthen lamps ahead of the Hindu festival of Diwali in Kolkata October 21, 2013. (Photo by Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters)

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A street vendor spreads vermilion powder used for worship during the Tihar festival, also called Diwali, in Kathmandu October 20, 2014. Hindus all over Nepal are celebrating the Tihar festival during which they worship cows, which are considered a maternal figure, and other animals. Also known as the festival of lights, devotees also worship the goddess of wealth Laxmi by illuminating and decorating their homes using garlands, oil lamps, candles and colourful light bulbs. (Photo by Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters)

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Visually impaired girls from the Andh Kalyan Kendra prepare wax-filled earthen lamps or “Kodiyas” for the forthcoming Diwali festival, the festival of lights – in Ahmedabad, October 18, 2011. (Photo by Amit Dave/Reuters)

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A poster of the Goddess of Wealth Laxmi which is used for worship during the Tihar festival, also called Diwali, is displayed for sale in Kathmandu October 20, 2014. (Photo by Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters)

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Traditional Nepalese hats which are necessary during rituals for worship during the Tihar festival, also called Diwali, are displayed for sale along a street in Kathmandu October 20, 2014. (Photo by Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters)

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A vendor hangs a lantern for sale at a Diwali market in Mumbai October 20, 2014. (Photo by Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

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Hindu priests put the finishing touches to a rangoli, or mural made out of colored powders, at a temple ahead of Diwali festival celebrations in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad October 20, 2014. (Photo by Amit Dave/Reuters)

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A street vendor sells garlands that are used for worship during the Tihar festival, also called Diwali, in Kathmandu October 20, 2014. (Photo by Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters)

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Women buy artificial jewellery at an open air market ahead of the Hindu festival of Diwali, in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad October 19, 2014. (Photo by Amit Dave/Reuters)

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Customers shop for lanterns at a roadside Diwali market in Mumbai October 20, 2014. (Photo by Shailesh Andrade/Reuters)

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A vendor speaks to a customer at his roadside lantern stall at a Diwali market in Mumbai October 20, 2014. (Photo by Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

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A devotee (L) lights a lamp at Akshardham temple during celebrations to mark the annual Hindu festival of Diwali at Gandhinagar in Gujarat October 17, 2009. (Photo by Amit Dave/Reuters)

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A woman lights an earthen lamp during the celebrations on the eve of the Hindu festival of Diwali in Ahmedabad October 16, 2009. (Photo by Amit Dave/Reuters)

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