DIWALI is now underway, with the five-day Festival of Light celebration being observed by millions around the globe.
The festival of light sees Hindu homes being decorated with candles and lights and people sharing gifts – but what is the celebration about?
When is Diwali 2017?
The date of the festival is calculated according to the position of the moon and the Hindu lunar calendar and is usually in October or November.
This means the date of Diwali changes each year and, in 2017, the main date is TOMORROW (October 19).
But Diwali itself began on October 17 – and celebrations continue for five days.
Diwali is observed by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains around the world and is often celebrated by street parties and fireworks.
What do the different dates of Diwali mean?
- Dhanteras (October 17): ‘Dhah’ means wealth – and this day is dedicated to celebrating prosperity.
- Naraka Chaturdasi or Chhoti Diwali (October 18): Known as ‘small Diwali’, Goddess Kali and Lord Krishna are believed to have destroyed the demon Narakasura on this day. Kali is worshiped in West Bengal, while demon effigies are burned in Goa.
- Amavasya (October 19): The new moon day, and the darkest day of the month, which is the most significant day of Diwali.
- The fourth day (October 20): This day has various meanings in different parts of India. In the north, it’s the day Lord Krishna defeated Indra. In Gujarat, it’s the start of the new year.
- Bhai Dooj (October 21): A feast and celebration of brotherly-sisterly love.
Why is Diwali celebrated by Hindus?
The five-day festival, which coincides with Hindu New Year, is seen to be one of the most significant in the Indian culture.
Many people celebrate the legend of Hindu God Rama and his wife Sita’s returning to their kingdom in northern India after being exiled following the defeat of demon king Ravanna.
The word itself means “series of lights” and during the festival houses and shops are decorated with candles and lights.
This is meant to represent light over darkness and the Hindu belief that good will always triumph over evil.
For many Indians, Diwali honours Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and people will start the new business year at Diwali and some will say prayers to the goddess for a prosperous year ahead.
What is the festival of light all about?
Diwali is marked by huge firework displays, which are supposed to reflect the celebrations of Lord Rama’s return.
Traditional earthen diyas or candles are lit, and houses are decorated with colourful rangoli artworks – patterns created on the floor using coloured rice or powder.
During the festival, families and friends share sweets and gifts and there is also a strong belief in giving to those in need. It is also traditional for homes to be cleaned and new clothes to be worn.
Indian sweets which come in a range of colours and flavours are also eaten during the celebrations, as well as various rich savoury and sweet dishes.