Diwali is the five day Festival of Lights and is traditionally celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains and is one of the most significant festivals in the Indian culture.
The word Diwali means rows of lighted lamps and it is known as the Festival of Lights because houses and shops are decorated with candles and colourful lights. This shows the victory of light over darkness and good over evil.
For many Indians, Diwali honours Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and people will start the new business year at Diwali and some will say prayers to the goddess for a prosperous year ahead.
How is Diwali celebrated?
Large firework displays are held which celebrate one of the Diwali legends, Rama and his wife Sita.
The fireworks signify Rama’s return to his kingdom after being exiled for 14 years and defeating king Ravana, when the local people set off their own version of fireworks.
Those celebrating Diwali also light traditional earthenware oil lamps called diyas which are said to help Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, find her way into people’s homes, and they’ll leave their windows and doors of their houses open so that she can enter.
People will also create rangoli artwork which are patterns created using coloured rice or powder, with the most popular pattern being the lotus flower as Lakshmi was often pictured either sitting on one or holding a lotus.
During Diwali, families and friends share sweets, dried fruit and gifts, and many give food and goods to those who are less fortunate and in need. It is also a time when people spring-clean and redecorate their homes and wear new clothes.
When is Diwali?
The date of Diwali changes each year as the day it is celebrated is calculated according to the position of the moon and the Hindu lunar calendar.
This year 2015, Diwali falls today, on Wednesday November 11.