What is Diwali?
Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is a major religious festival celebrated in Hinduism predominately, but also in Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism. It is celebrated over 5 days and is a national holiday in India, with festival activities taking place worldwide.
When is Diwali celebrated?
Diwali is observed between October and November, and the dates vary each year. This year, celebrations begin with Dhanteras on Friday, 10th November, with the main day of Diwali celebrations on Sunday, 12th November.
Why is Diwali important?
The festival name derives from the Sanskrit word dipavali, which means “row of lights”. The holiday celebrates the victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.
Diwali traditionally commemorates the return of Prince Rama of Ayodhya, his wife Sita, and brother Lakshman after 14 years of exile. According to Hindu tradition, Prince Rama is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and an embodiment of righteousness. Sita is an incarnation of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. The residents of Ayodhya celebrated their return by lighting lamps, an important part of the festivities to this day.
Read more on Diwali’s Hindu origins here.
Sikhs particularly celebrate the release of the sixth guru Hargobind Singh from prison in 1619, however Sikhs celebrated the festival before this date.
The founder of Jainism is Lord Mahavira. During Diwali, Jains celebrate the moment he reached a state called Moksha (nirvana, or eternal bliss).
How is Diwali celebrated?
The five-day festival is a celebration of light, prosperity and cultural significance, both in India and worldwide. It includes Dhanteras, Naraka Chaturdashi (Choti Diwali), Diwali (the main event), Govardhan Puja and Bhai Dooj; each of these days have their own rituals and traditions.
Learn more about the five days of Diwali here.
During Diwali, families use this time to get together, share food and sweets, light lamps and fireworks, and clean their homes and buy gold and silver items to attract good luck and fortune for their families.