Diwali is a “Festival of Lights”
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Diwali, Divali, Deepavali or Dipavali is a four to five day-long festival of lights, which is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists every autumn in the northern hemisphere. One of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, Diwali symbolises the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.” Light is a metaphor for knowledge and consciousness. During the celebration, temples, homes, shops and office buildings are brightly illuminated. The preparations, and rituals, for the festival typically last five days, with the climax occurring on the third day coinciding with the darkest night of the Hindu lunisolar month Kartika. In the Gregorian calendar, the festival generally falls between mid-October and mid-November.
Diwali is India’s biggest holiday, transcending religions and cultures to celebrate the triumph of good over evil (as symbolized by lights in the darkness).
What Diwali literally means
The name “Diwali” is actually short for Dipawali (or Deepawali) which refers to the clay lamps (“deepa“) that celebrants arrange in rows (“avali“) outside their homes.
Diwali is multi-culti
Diwali began in the Hindu religion, but it’s been adopted across Indian culture (much like Christmas has been adopted across American culture). It’s also celebrated in many countries, particularly Asia, although please don’t count out the United Kingdom, whose lavish celebrations of Diwali are among the world’s most colorful (as shown in this photo taken on Diwali in Trafalgar Square).
Food is an essential part of Diwali…
“Indian sweets and desserts are called mithai and are a staple part of Diwali celebrations,” according to the Independent U.K. Many of the treats are fried foods made from sugar, chickpea flour, and condensed milk.
For more pictures and celebrations, see the following Readers Digest story: