Diwali is India’s most important holiday and is a celebration of light. Diwali is observed by more then a billion people, across multiple different faiths. This multi-day festival of lights brings prayer, feasts, fireworks, and for some, a new year.
Diwali is a time to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil. The word Diwali is derived from the Sanskrit “Dipawali”, which means “row of lights”. Diwali is known for the brightly burning clay lamps the celebrants line up outside and within their homes.
The dates of Diwali are based on the Hindu lunar Calendar. Diwali beings just before the arrival of a new moon between the Hindu months of Asvina and Kartika, which typically falls in October or November of the Georgian calendar. This year it is celebrated on October 24th, 25th and 26th.
Diwali is so widely celebrated – it’s an important religious festival for Hindus, but is celebrated by all in India across all religions – that is has no single origin story. While each religion and region has its own historical narrative behind the holiday, they are ultimately all a representation of the victory of good over evil, or light over darkness.
Just as the legends of Diwali differ from region to region so, too, do the holiday rituals. What most have in common though are the abundance of sweets, family gatherings, fireworks and the lighting of clay lamps that symbolize the inner light that protects each household from spiritual darkness.