The festival of lights, Diwali, is arguably India’s biggest religious celebration, when homes, institutions and entire neighbourhoods are decorated with candles, earthen lamps and fairy lights on this auspicious moonless night. In urban India, Diwali has come to be associated with weeks of card parties that culminate in a grand evening of firecrackers, on the main day of the festival.
Hundreds of millions of people in India and around the world are set to celebrate Diwali. Popularly referred to as the “Festival of Lights”, Diwali is a five-day Hindu holiday marking the triumph of good over evil. Light a candle and join us as we celebrate this resplendent day!
Like other aspects of Hinduism—the world’s oldest religion—the origins of Diwali are ancient. And, like Hinduism, observance of Diwali is richly varied among the faith’s 800 million adherents. It’s likely, however, that the celebration has its roots in ancient South Asian harvest festivals. For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important holidays of the year and is celebrated by families together in their homes.
Diwali (a contraction of the Sanskrit ‘deepavali‘ which translates into ‘row of lights’) involves the lighting of small clay lamps filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. These lamps are kept on during the night in order to ensure Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of happiness, feels welcome. Hindus believe that she roams the earth during the festival and enters those houses that are pure, clean, and bright—bringing with her good fortune.
Firecrackers are lit in order to drive away evil spirits and many families draw a colorful rangoli, a decorative pattern made in rice flour, at the entrance of their home. Friends, family, and neighbors visit to share in food and festivities, as well as little treats such as khil (rice puffs) and patashe (sugar disks). Puja, the worship of deities, takes place at home and at temples with prayers and other offerings.
Diwali is an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji. However, the largest Diwali celebration outside of India takes place in Leicester, England’s Golden Mile section.
Show off your lights today and join the celebration!
Share and let others know how you celebrate Diwali,