1. Diwali is the most important religious festival celebrated by followers of Hinduism. It is also referred to as Deepavali or Deepawali or the Festival of Lights.
2. The Festival of Lights celebrates the Hindu New Year and the victory of light over darkness and the triumph of good over evil.
3.This festival celebrates the Hindu New Year and festivities can last up to five days. Diwali takes place every year in late October or early November depending on the cycle of the moon. The festival starts two days before the new moon comes up.
4. The name Deepavali originates from the ancient Indian Sanskrit language and means ‘row of lights’. ‘Dipa‘ means ‘Light’ and ‘avali‘ is the word for ‘row’.
5. There are various legends that refer to the festival. They traditionally involve the Hindu gods Rama, Lakshmi or Krishna. They all celebrate the victory of the good over the evil and this festival is a celebration of hope, happiness and peace.
6. Originally Diwali was celebrated as a harvest festival in India, but today Diwali is celebrated as the festival of light by Hindus all over the world.
7. At Diwali it is tradition to decorate and illuminate the homes, visit the local temple for prayers and share meals with families and friends. Children get small gifts and sweets. Traditional Diwali food includes sweets such as the delicious syrupy gulab jamun balls and other Indian sweets displayed below.
8. Lighting candles, oil lamps and sparklers are the main customs at this festival. Indians light diyas which are candleholders or clay lamps that are used for decoration.
9. Statues of Lakshmi, the four-armed Hindu goddess of prosperity, and of Ganesha, the Hindu lord of success usually referred to as the ‘Elephant God’, are also cherished and decorated with flowers in many homes.
10. Larger Diwali celebrations outside India take place in Singapore’s Little India district as well as in London and Leicester/UK, Sydney/Australia and Toronto/Canada where some main roads are decorated with lights and the Hindu community gathers and showcases Indian traditions, crafts and Indian food at fairs and festival grounds.