Diwali takes place this year on Wednesday 11th November. Popularly known as the ‘Festival of Lights’, it is an ancient five-day festival traditionally celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world.
It is one of the most significant and well known festivals in Indian culture. The colourful and vibrant occasion traditionally marks new beginnings and a renewal of commitment to family values. It also represents the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil.
Diwali is the five-day festival of lights, celebrated by millions across the world. The festival falls every year between the middle of October and the middle of November, however this is dictated by the Hindu lunar calendar.
Diwali coincides with the Hindu New Year, therefore it is a significant holiday in India that sees millions attend firework displays, prayers and celebratory events.
For many Indians, Diwali festival honours Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and wealth, and marks the start of the new business year. The ancient legend of Lord Rama’s return from exile is also celebrated throughout Diwali with large firework displays in his honour.
Where is Diwali celebrated?
Traditionally Diwali celebrations have taken place in India, however as it is also the Hindu New Year and therefore a major holiday, it is celebrated by millions across the world, from India and Nepal to the UK.
The celebration’s eccentric characteristics consisting of large firework displays, attractive decorations and bright lights have made the festival a popular celebration among non-observers of these religions.
How is Diwali celebrated?
Lights, fireworks, clay lamps, food and decorative garlands of marigold flowers and jasmine are sold on stalls across India in the run up to Diwali.
Those celebrating the festival decorate their houses with candles, small clay lamps (“diyas”), colourful lights and intricate rangoli artworks. The rangoli are colourful geometric patterns designed for entrance ways and courtyards created by using coloured powder, paint, flower petals and rice. All of these features are to encourage and welcome the goddess Lakshmi.
Diwali is also marked with firework displays and lavish family feasts, where friends and families participate in prayers (“puja”), and share sweets (“mithai”), and gifts with one another.
It is also traditional for homes and gardens to be cleaned in preparation for the New Year and for new clothes to be worn during the festival – making this a huge date in the Indian shopping calendar.
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