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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Photo of the Day: Diwali Steve

Photo of the Day: Diwali Steve

An artist gives finishing touches to a Rangoli depicting Steve Jobs in Mumbai. Rangoli, the Indian art of arranging finely ground colored powders, is part of Diwali, the festival of lights, jubilation and enthusiasm. (Punit Paranjpe/AFP/Getty Images) Click image to zoom.