Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, will be held this year on October 23rd. Preparations for the celebrations have already begun for many, as Diwali is observed over five days, but the main night of festivities takes place every year on the darkest new moon night of Kartika, the eighth month of the Hindu calendar.
One of the most important Hindu holidays, the festival dates back to ancient times, and celebrates the “triumph of good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair”.
Diwali is an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji, and traditional celebrations vary from country to country. However, there are some rituals common to Hindus across the globe.
It's a very colourful and exciting festival, and a time for family and friends to come together in celebration. In the run-up to Diwali, homes are cleaned and decorated, with windows washed inside and out to welcome Lakshimi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Special clay lamps called diyas line the entrances to homes and businesses, also to welcome in Lakshimi. Colourful rangolis are drawn on the ground, using chalk, rice powder and flower petals.
These lights and rangolis are intended not only to welcome in Lakshimi, but also to welcome guests to the home. Diwali is a great occasion for dressing in new clothes, participating in family puja (prayer), before enjoying a grand feast and traditional sweets, including gulab jamun, a syrupy dumpling, and jalebi, a deep fried chewy treat. Fireworks displays light up the sky, and are traditionally believed to catch the attention of the gods.
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