The festival of Diwali, also known as Deepawali, is an annual five-day celebration held by millions of Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists in India and across the world. Diwali follows the Hindu lunar calendar, and takes place in October or November, depending on the cycle of the moon each year. The highlight of the celebrations takes place on the third night of the festival, which is the darkest night of the lunar month, and this year, Diwali will occur on 24th October 2022.
The way Diwali is celebrated depends on religion, region and tradition. For many Hindus, Diwali honours Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity. They also celebrate the story of a warrior god called Rama rescuing his wife, Sita, from the demon king Ravana with the help of the deity Hanuman and his monkey army.
Commonly referred to as the festival of lights, it is customary to celebrate by lighting candles and small clay lamps called diyads, as light is thought to represent triumph over darkness, ignorance and evil. People also celebrate by decorating their houses, lighting fireworks, exchanging gifts and enjoying food with family and friends.
Traditionally, people clean their homes before celebrating Diwali to promote positive energy, as many believe Lakshmi will visit and bless those who have a welcoming home – some people leave their windows and doors open so the goddess can find her way into their property easily. Another popular tradition is ‘rangoli’, which involves laying vibrant, ornate patterns made with powders and flowers on the floor.
On the night of Diwali, many Hindus offer prayers to Lakshmi and Ganesh – the god of good fortune and wisdom – for the coming year. During Diwali, gold is a popular and auspicious gift given to loved ones in order to bring luck, alongside other traditional gifts including statues, jewellery, homeware, sweets, candles and lamps.