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What is it?
Diwali – or the Festival of Lights – is probably the biggest, brightest and happiest of all the Hindu celebrations. The festival is also significant in other religions including Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism.
The name is derived from the Sanskrit word deepavali, which literally means ‘row of lights’, and is a celebration of the victory of light over darkness, good over evil.
Diwali is also the Hindu New Year and therefore a major holiday in India, although it’s also celebrated by millions across the world including here in the UK, with thousands attending Diwali lights switch-on events around the country.
When is it?
The date of Diwali changes from year to year, but tends to be in either October or November.
This year it is a five-day celebration with the main festivities taking place on the third day, Thursday, October 23.
How is it celebrated?
Lights – and lots of them! Homes are decorated with small clay oil lamps called diyas, while fireworks will be set off in celebration.
Gifts and sweets may be exchanged and lavish festive meals will be prepared, while people may also buy and wear new clothes.
It’s also a time that sees people thoroughly clean their homes and gardens to welcome in the New Year. Then windows will be opened so that Lakshmi – the Hindu goddess of wealth – can enter homes to bring prosperity.
The day after Diwali is also the beginning of the new financial year for Indian businesses.