Diwali or Divali also known as Deepavali and the “festival of lights”, is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in autumn every year. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. The festival preparations and rituals typically extend over a five day period, but the main festival night of Diwali coincides with the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu Lunisolar monthKartika. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali night falls between mid-October and mid-November.
Before Diwali night, people clean, renovate and decorate their homes and offices. On Diwali night, Hindus dress up in new clothes or their best outfit, light up diyas (lamps and candles) inside and outside their home, participate in familypuja (prayers) typically to Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth and prosperity. After puja, fireworks follow, then a family feast including mithai (sweets), and an exchange of gifts between family members and close friends. Diwali also marks a major shopping period in nations where it is celebrated.
Diwali is an important festival for Hindus. The name of festive days as well as the rituals of Diwali vary significantly among Hindus, based on the region of India. In many parts of India, the festivities start with Dhanteras, followed byNaraka Chaturdasi on second day, Diwali on the third day, Diwali Padva dedicated to wife–husband relationship on the fourth day, and festivities end with Bhau-beej dedicated to sister–brother bond on the fifth day. Dhanteras usually falls eighteen days after Dussehra.
On the same night that Hindus celebrate Diwali, Jains celebrate a festival of lights to mark the attainment of moksha byMahavira, and Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas. Diwali is an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka,Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore, Fiji and Pakistan.
Diwali is derived from the Sanskrit fusion word Dīpāvali, formed from dīpa (“light” or “lamp”) and āvalī. Dīpāvali or Deepavali thus meant a “row” or “series of lights”. Its celebration include millions of lights shining on housetops, outside doors and windows, around temples and other buildings in the communities and countries where it is observed.
Diwali is variously named and spelled/pronounced in diverse languages of India: ‘deepabali’,’deepaboli’,’deepavali’ ,’divali’ (Gujarati:દિવાળી, Hindi: दिवाली, Marathi: दिवाळी,Konkani: दिवाळी Punjabi: ਦੀਵਾਲੀ), ‘diyari’ (Sindhi: दियारी), and ‘tihar’ (Nepali: तिहार).