Diwali is an important religious festival celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. The literal translation of Diwali comes from the Sanskrit word "deepavali", meaning "rows of lighted lamps". It is a festival of new beginnings, celebrating the triumph of good over evil, and light over darkness. Diwali is usually held some time between October and November, with the date changing each year.
Some of the traditions include lighting oil lamps on the streets and in houses, visiting relatives and having feasts, and fireworks and festivities are a significant part of the occasion.
Each religion marks different historical events and stories. Hindus celebrate the return of deities Rama and Sita to Ayodhya after their 14-year exile, after vanquishing the demon king Ravana. In mythology, lights were lit all across the country to celebrate his return to rule. They also celebrate the day Mother Goddess Durga destroyed a demon called Mahisha.
Sikhs particularly celebrate the release from prison of the sixth guru Hargobind Singh in 1619. But Sikhs celebrated the festival before this date.
During Diwali, Jains celebrate the moment he reached a state called Moksha (nirvana, or eternal bliss).
For many people, Diwali honours Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth. The lights and lamps are said to help Lakshmi find her way into people's homes, bringing prosperity and joy in the year to come.
Diwali is also a time to simply have fun with friends and family! People exchange gifts and sweets and wear new clothes. Cleaning and de-cluttering your home is also a typical Diwali ritual. This is because an important aspect of the festival emphasises the theme of letting go of the old and ushering in the new.
Image by Udayaditya Barua