Diwali
Overview
 
Diwali or DeepavaliThe name of the festival in various regional languages
Languages of India
The languages of India belong to several language families, the major ones being the Indo-European languages—Indo-Aryan and the Dravidian languages...

 include:
, , , , , , , , , , , ,
, popularly known as the "festival of lights," is a festival
Festival
A festival or gala is an event, usually and ordinarily staged by a local community, which centers on and celebrates some unique aspect of that community and the Festival....

 celebrated between mid-October and mid-December for different reasons. For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year and is celebrated in families by performing traditional activities together in their homes.
Encyclopedia
Diwali or DeepavaliThe name of the festival in various regional languages
Languages of India
The languages of India belong to several language families, the major ones being the Indo-European languages—Indo-Aryan and the Dravidian languages...

 include:
, , , , , , , , , , , ,
, popularly known as the "festival of lights," is a festival
Festival
A festival or gala is an event, usually and ordinarily staged by a local community, which centers on and celebrates some unique aspect of that community and the Festival....

 celebrated between mid-October and mid-December for different reasons. For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year and is celebrated in families by performing traditional activities together in their homes. For Jains
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

, Diwali marks the attainment of moksha
Moksha
Within Indian religions, moksha or mukti , literally "release" , is the liberation from samsara and the concomitant suffering involved in being subject to the cycle of repeated death and reincarnation or rebirth.-Origins:It is highly probable that the concept of moksha was first developed in...

or nirvana
Nirvana
Nirvāṇa ; ) is a central concept in Indian religions. In sramanic thought, it is the state of being free from suffering. In Hindu philosophy, it is the union with the Supreme being through moksha...

by Mahavira
Mahavira
Mahāvīra is the name most commonly used to refer to the Indian sage Vardhamāna who established what are today considered to be the central tenets of Jainism. According to Jain tradition, he was the 24th and the last Tirthankara. In Tamil, he is referred to as Arukaṉ or Arukadevan...

 in 527 BC.

Diwali is an official holiday in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

, Myanmar
Myanmar
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

, Mauritius
Mauritius
Mauritius , officially the Republic of Mauritius is an island nation off the southeast coast of the African continent in the southwest Indian Ocean, about east of Madagascar...

, Guyana
Guyana
Guyana , officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, previously the colony of British Guiana, is a sovereign state on the northern coast of South America that is culturally part of the Anglophone Caribbean. Guyana was a former colony of the Dutch and of the British...

, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname
Suriname
Suriname , officially the Republic of Suriname , is a country in northern South America. It borders French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the west, Brazil to the south, and on the north by the Atlantic Ocean. Suriname was a former colony of the British and of the Dutch, and was previously known as...

, Malaysia, Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, and Fiji
Fiji
Fiji , officially the Republic of Fiji , is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about northeast of New Zealand's North Island...

.

The name "Diwali" is a contraction of "Deepavali" ( ), which translates into "row of lamps". Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps (diyas
Diya (light)
A Diya, divaa, deepam, or deepak is an oil lamp usually made from clay, with a cotton wick dipped in ghee or vegetable oils....

or dīpas) in ) filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. These lamps are kept on during the night and one's house is cleaned, both done in order to make the goddess Lakshmi
Lakshmi
Lakshmi or Lakumi is the Hindu goddess of wealth, prosperity , light, wisdom, fortune, fertility, generosity and courage; and the embodiment of beauty, grace and charm. Representations of Lakshmi are also found in Jain monuments...

 feel welcome. Firecrackers are burst in order to drive away evil spirits. During Diwali, all the celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets
Indian sweets
South Asian Sweets are a unique type of confectionary in Indian, Pakistani and other South Asian cuisines. The Hindi-Urdu word used to refer to sweets and confectionary is mithai. South Asian sweets are made with sugar, milk and condensed milk, and cooked by frying. The bases of the sweets and...

 and snacks with family members and friends.

The festival starts with Dhanteras
Dhanteras
Dhanteras is the first day of the five-day Diwali Festival as celebrated in parts of north India. The festival, also known as "Dhantrayodashi" or "Dhanvantari Triodasi", falls on the auspicious thirteenth lunar day of Krishna paksha in the Hindu calendar month of Kartik .The Dhan in Dhanteras means...

 on which most Indian business communities begin their financial year. The second day of the festival, Naraka Chaturdasi, marks the vanquishing of the demon Naraka
Narakasura
In Hindu beliefs, Narakasura or Naraka is the asura son of the earth goddess Bhudevi and Lord Vishnu in his Varaha Avatar . In other sources, he is the son of the asura Hiranyaksha. He is said to have established the kingdom of Pragjyotisha in Assam after overthrowing the last of the Danava king...

 by Lord Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

 and his wife Satyabhama
Satyabhama
Satyabhama is the third wife of Lord Krishna, known for her strong will and tantrums.She is believed to be a partial avatar of Bhudevi.-Marriage:...

. Amavasya, the third day of Diwali, marks the worship of Lakshmi
Lakshmi
Lakshmi or Lakumi is the Hindu goddess of wealth, prosperity , light, wisdom, fortune, fertility, generosity and courage; and the embodiment of beauty, grace and charm. Representations of Lakshmi are also found in Jain monuments...

, the goddess of wealth in her most benevolent mood, fulfilling the wishes of her devotees. Amavasya also tells the story of Lord Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

, who in his dwarf incarnation vanquished the Bali
Mahabali
Mahabali , also known as Bali or Māveli was a benevolent Asura King, and the grandson of Prahlada. The festival of Onam commemorates his yearly homecoming after being sent down to the underworld by Vamana, the fifth avatar of Vishnu.-Conquest of the Universe and banishment:Bali, an asura, was the...

, and banished him to Patala
Patala
Patala is a town and a nagar panchayat in Ghaziabad district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.-Demographics: India census, Patala had a population of 9730. Males constitute 54% of the population and females 46%. Patala has an average literacy rate of 61%, higher than the national average of...

. It is on the fourth day of Diwali, Kartika Shudda Padyami, that Bali went to patala
Patala
Patala is a town and a nagar panchayat in Ghaziabad district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.-Demographics: India census, Patala had a population of 9730. Males constitute 54% of the population and females 46%. Patala has an average literacy rate of 61%, higher than the national average of...

 and took the reins of his new kingdom in there. The fifth day is referred to as Yama Dvitiya (also called Bhai Dooj), and on this day sisters invite their brothers to their homes.

Dates

Diwali falls on the one new moon night (Amavasya
Amavasya
Amavasya is the Indian name for a New moon. The word Amavasya is common to many Indian languages especially Sanskrit, Hindi, Assamese, Kannada, Bengali, Konkani, Marathi, Oriya, Telugu, and Gujarati...

) between mid-October and mid-December. This year it was on 26th October 2011. Diwali is celebrated for five days according to the lunisolar Hindu Calendar
Hindu calendar
The hindu calendar used in ancient times has undergone many changes in the process of regionalization, and today there are several regional Indian calendars, as well as an Indian national calendar. Nepali calendar, Bengali calendar, Malayalam calendar, Tamil calendar, Telugu calendar, Kannada...

. It begins in late Ashvin
Ashvin
Ashvin , also known as Aswayuja, is the seventh month of the lunisolar Hindu calendar, the Tamil solar calendar where it is known as Aipassi and the solar India's national civil calendar. It is the sixth month of the solar Bengali calendar. It falls in the season of Shôrot, or Autumn...

 (between September and October) and ends in early Kartika
Kartika (month)
Kartika , is a month of Hindu and Bengali calendars, named after the Hindu god, Kartikeya....

 (between November and December). The days in Ashvin are in the Krishna Paksha
Paksha
Paksha , is a fortnight in a month of the Hindu lunar calendar. Literally meaning side or period, that is either side of the Full Moon Day or Purnima...

("dark fortnight") of that month, while the days in Kartik are in its Shukla Paksha ("bright fortnight"). The first day is Dhan Teras. The last day is Yama Dvitiya, which signifies the second day of the light half of Kartika. Each day of Diwali marks one celebration of the six principal stories associated with the festival.

Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

s have several significant events associated with Diwali:
  • The return of Rama
    Rama
    Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

     after 14 years of Vanvas
    Vanvas
    Vanvas is a Sanskrit term meaning residence in a forest . While it can be undertaken voluntarily, it usually carries a connotation of forced exile as a punishment...

     (banishment). To welcome his return, diyas (ghee lamps) were lit in rows of 20.
  • The emergence of Goddess Lakshmi from the Kshira Sagar during Samudra manthan
    Samudra manthan
    In Hinduism, Samudra manthan or Ksheera Sagara Mathanam, Churning of the Ocean of Milk is one of the most famous episodes in the Puranas...

    .
  • The killing of Narakasura
    Narakasura
    In Hindu beliefs, Narakasura or Naraka is the asura son of the earth goddess Bhudevi and Lord Vishnu in his Varaha Avatar . In other sources, he is the son of the asura Hiranyaksha. He is said to have established the kingdom of Pragjyotisha in Assam after overthrowing the last of the Danava king...

    : Celebrated as Naraka Chaturdashi
    Naraka Chaturdashi
    Naraka Chaturdashi is a Hindu festival, which falls on the second day of the festival of Diwali.Kali means Dark and Chaudas - Fourteenth. Thus, celebrated on the 14th day of the dark half of Āshwin month, Kali Chaudas is the day allotted to the worship of Maha-Kali or Shakti and is believed that...

    , one day before Diwali, it commemorates the killing of the evil demon Narakasura, who wreaked havoc. Krishna
    Krishna
    Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

    's wife Satyabhama
    Satyabhama
    Satyabhama is the third wife of Lord Krishna, known for her strong will and tantrums.She is believed to be a partial avatar of Bhudevi.-Marriage:...

     killed Narakasura during the Dwapara yuga. In another version of the belief, the demon was killed by Krishna or Krishna provoked his wife Satyabhama to kill Narshna, defeating Indra
    Indra
    ' or is the King of the demi-gods or Devas and Lord of Heaven or Svargaloka in Hindu mythology. He is also the God of War, Storms, and Rainfall.Indra is one of the chief deities in the Rigveda...

    .
  • Govardhan Puja is celebrated the day after Diwali and is the day Krishna defeated Indra, the deity of thunder and rain. According to the story, Krishna saw preparations for an annual offering to Lord Indra and asked his father Nanda about it. He debated with the villagers about what their 'dharma' truly was. They were farmers, they should do their duty and concentrate on farming and protection of their cattle. He said that all human beings should do their 'karma' to the best of their ability and not pray for natural phenomenon. The villagers were convinced by Krishna, and did not proceed with the special puja (prayer). Indra was then angered, and flooded the village. Krishna lifted Mount Govardhan and held it up to protect the people and cattle from the rain. Indra finally accepted defeat and recognized Krishna as supreme. Although this aspect of Krishna's life is sometimes ignored it sets up the basis of the 'karma' philosophy later detailed in the Bhagavat Gita.


Other events associated with Diwali include:
  • Return of Pandavas after 12 years of Vanvas
    Vanvas
    Vanvas is a Sanskrit term meaning residence in a forest . While it can be undertaken voluntarily, it usually carries a connotation of forced exile as a punishment...

     and one year of agyatavas (living incognito).

Diwali celebrations are spread over five days, from Dhanteras to Bhaiduj. In some places like Maharashtra it starts with Vasu Baras. All the days except Diwali are named according to their designation in the Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 calendar. The days are:
  1. Govatsa Dwadashi or Vasu Baras (27 Ashvin
    Ashvin
    Ashvin , also known as Aswayuja, is the seventh month of the lunisolar Hindu calendar, the Tamil solar calendar where it is known as Aipassi and the solar India's national civil calendar. It is the sixth month of the solar Bengali calendar. It falls in the season of Shôrot, or Autumn...

    or 12 Krishna Paksha
    Paksha
    Paksha , is a fortnight in a month of the Hindu lunar calendar. Literally meaning side or period, that is either side of the Full Moon Day or Purnima...

     Ashvin
    Ashvin
    Ashvin , also known as Aswayuja, is the seventh month of the lunisolar Hindu calendar, the Tamil solar calendar where it is known as Aipassi and the solar India's national civil calendar. It is the sixth month of the solar Bengali calendar. It falls in the season of Shôrot, or Autumn...

    ): Go means cow and vatsa means calf. Dwadashi or Baras means the 12th day. On this day the cow and calf are worshiped. The story associated with this day is that of King Prithu
    Prithu
    According to Hindu mythology, Prithu is a sovereign , named in the Vedic scriptures and considered an Avatar of the preserver god—Vishnu. He is also called Pruthu, Prithi and Prithu Vainya, literally, Prithu — the son of Vena...

    , son of the tyrant King Vena. Due to the ill rule of Vena, there was a terrible famine and earth stopped being fruitful. Prithu chased the earth, who is usually represented as cow, and ‘milked’ her, meaning that he brought prosperity to the land.
  2. Dhanatrayodashi or Dhan teras or Dhanwantari Triodasi
    Dhanteras
    Dhanteras is the first day of the five-day Diwali Festival as celebrated in parts of north India. The festival, also known as "Dhantrayodashi" or "Dhanvantari Triodasi", falls on the auspicious thirteenth lunar day of Krishna paksha in the Hindu calendar month of Kartik .The Dhan in Dhanteras means...

    (28 Ashvin
    Ashvin
    Ashvin , also known as Aswayuja, is the seventh month of the lunisolar Hindu calendar, the Tamil solar calendar where it is known as Aipassi and the solar India's national civil calendar. It is the sixth month of the solar Bengali calendar. It falls in the season of Shôrot, or Autumn...

    or 13 Krishna Paksha
    Paksha
    Paksha , is a fortnight in a month of the Hindu lunar calendar. Literally meaning side or period, that is either side of the Full Moon Day or Purnima...

     Ashvin
    Ashvin
    Ashvin , also known as Aswayuja, is the seventh month of the lunisolar Hindu calendar, the Tamil solar calendar where it is known as Aipassi and the solar India's national civil calendar. It is the sixth month of the solar Bengali calendar. It falls in the season of Shôrot, or Autumn...

    ): Dhana means wealth and Trayodashi means 13th day. This day falls on the 13th day of the second half of the lunar month. It is considered an auspicious day for buying utensils and gold, hence the name ‘Dhana’. This day is regarded as the Jayanti (Birth Anniversary) of God Dhanvantari
    Dhanvantari
    Dhanvantari is an Avatar of Vishnu from the Hindu tradition. He appears in the Vedas and Puranas as the physician of the gods , and the god of Ayurvedic medicine...

    , the Physician of Gods, who came out during Samudra manthan
    Samudra manthan
    In Hinduism, Samudra manthan or Ksheera Sagara Mathanam, Churning of the Ocean of Milk is one of the most famous episodes in the Puranas...

    , the churning of the great ocean by the gods and the demons.
  3. Naraka Chaturdashi
    Naraka Chaturdashi
    Naraka Chaturdashi is a Hindu festival, which falls on the second day of the festival of Diwali.Kali means Dark and Chaudas - Fourteenth. Thus, celebrated on the 14th day of the dark half of Āshwin month, Kali Chaudas is the day allotted to the worship of Maha-Kali or Shakti and is believed that...

    (29 Ashvin
    Ashvin
    Ashvin , also known as Aswayuja, is the seventh month of the lunisolar Hindu calendar, the Tamil solar calendar where it is known as Aipassi and the solar India's national civil calendar. It is the sixth month of the solar Bengali calendar. It falls in the season of Shôrot, or Autumn...

    or 14 Krishna Paksha
    Paksha
    Paksha , is a fortnight in a month of the Hindu lunar calendar. Literally meaning side or period, that is either side of the Full Moon Day or Purnima...

     Ashvin
    Ashvin
    Ashvin , also known as Aswayuja, is the seventh month of the lunisolar Hindu calendar, the Tamil solar calendar where it is known as Aipassi and the solar India's national civil calendar. It is the sixth month of the solar Bengali calendar. It falls in the season of Shôrot, or Autumn...

    ): Chaturdashi is the 14th day This was the day on which the demon Narakasura was killed by Krishna – an incarnation of Vishnu
    Vishnu
    Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

    . It signifies the victory of good over evil and light over darkness (Gujarati: Kali Chaudas, Rajasthan : Roop Chaudas). In southern India, this is the actual day of festivities. Hindus wake up before dawn, have a fragrant oil bath and dress in new clothes. They light small lamps all around the house and draw elaborate kolam
    Kolam
    Kolam is a form of painting that is drawn using rice powder. A Kolam is a geometrical line drawing composed of curved loops, drawn around a grid pattern of dots. In South India, it is widely practised by female Hindu family members in front of their homes.-Purpose:Kolams are thought to bestow...

    s /rangoli
    Rangoli
    Rangoli is a traditional decorative folk art from India. These are decorative designs made on floors of living rooms and courtyards during Hindu festivals and are meant as sacred welcoming areas for the Hindu deities. The ancient symbols have been passed on through the ages, from each generation to...

    s outside their homes. They perform a special puja with offerings to Krishna or Vishnu, as he liberated the world from the demon Narakasura on this day. It is believed that taking a bath before sunrise, when the stars are still visible in the sky is equivalent to taking a bath in the holy Ganges. After the puja, children burst firecrackers heralding the defeat of the demon. As this is a day of rejoicing, many will have very elaborate breakfasts and lunches and meet family and friends.
  4. Lakshmi Puja
    Lakshmi Puja
    Lakshmi puja is performed during Diwali, the festival of lights. According to tradition people would put small oil lamps outside their homes on Diwali and hope Lakshmi will come to bless them....

    (30 Ashvin
    Ashvin
    Ashvin , also known as Aswayuja, is the seventh month of the lunisolar Hindu calendar, the Tamil solar calendar where it is known as Aipassi and the solar India's national civil calendar. It is the sixth month of the solar Bengali calendar. It falls in the season of Shôrot, or Autumn...

    or 15 Krishna Paksha
    Paksha
    Paksha , is a fortnight in a month of the Hindu lunar calendar. Literally meaning side or period, that is either side of the Full Moon Day or Purnima...

     Ashvin
    Ashvin
    Ashvin , also known as Aswayuja, is the seventh month of the lunisolar Hindu calendar, the Tamil solar calendar where it is known as Aipassi and the solar India's national civil calendar. It is the sixth month of the solar Bengali calendar. It falls in the season of Shôrot, or Autumn...

    ): Lakshmi Puja marks the most important day of Diwali celebrations in North India. Hindu homes worship Lakshmi
    Lakshmi
    Lakshmi or Lakumi is the Hindu goddess of wealth, prosperity , light, wisdom, fortune, fertility, generosity and courage; and the embodiment of beauty, grace and charm. Representations of Lakshmi are also found in Jain monuments...

    , the goddess of wealth, and Ganesh, the God of auspicious beginnings, and then light lamps in the streets and homes to welcome prosperity and well-being.
  5. Bali Pratipada and Govardhan Puja
    Govardhan Puja
    Govardhan Puja, also called Annakut , is celebrated as the day Krishna defeated Indra. Lord Krishna taught people to worship nature, as mountains bring rains to earth and to stop worshiping the God of Rains, Lord Indra. His was the message that we should take care of our nature...

    (1 Kartika
    Kartika (month)
    Kartika , is a month of Hindu and Bengali calendars, named after the Hindu god, Kartikeya....

    or 1 Shukla Paksha
    Paksha
    Paksha , is a fortnight in a month of the Hindu lunar calendar. Literally meaning side or period, that is either side of the Full Moon Day or Purnima...

     Kartika
    Kartika (month)
    Kartika , is a month of Hindu and Bengali calendars, named after the Hindu god, Kartikeya....

    ) : In North India, this day is celebrated as Govardhan Puja, also called Annakoot, and is celebrated as the day Krishna
    Krishna
    Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

     – an incarnation of god Vishnu
    Vishnu
    Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

     – defeated Indra
    Indra
    ' or is the King of the demi-gods or Devas and Lord of Heaven or Svargaloka in Hindu mythology. He is also the God of War, Storms, and Rainfall.Indra is one of the chief deities in the Rigveda...

     and by the lifting of Govardhana hill to save his kinsmen and cattle from rain and floods. For Annakoot, large quantities of food are decorated symbolizing the Govardhan hill lifted by Krishna. In Maharashtra
    Maharashtra
    Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

    , Tamil Nadu
    Tamil Nadu
    Tamil Nadu is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the union territory of Pondicherry, and the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh...

     and Karnataka
    Karnataka
    Karnataka , the land of the Kannadigas, is a state in South West India. It was created on 1 November 1956, with the passing of the States Reorganisation Act and this day is annually celebrated as Karnataka Rajyotsava...

    , it is celebrated as Bali-Pratipada or Bali Padyami. The day commemorates the victory of Vishnu in his dwarf form Vamana
    Vamana
    Vamana is described in the Puranic texts of Hinduism as the Fifth Avatar of Vishnu, and the first incarnation of the Second Age, or the Treta yuga. Also he is the first Avatar of Vishnu which appears with a completely human form, though it was that of a dwarf brahmin. He is also sometimes known as...

     over the demon-king Bali
    Mahabali
    Mahabali , also known as Bali or Māveli was a benevolent Asura King, and the grandson of Prahlada. The festival of Onam commemorates his yearly homecoming after being sent down to the underworld by Vamana, the fifth avatar of Vishnu.-Conquest of the Universe and banishment:Bali, an asura, was the...

    , who was pushed into the patala
    Patala
    Patala is a town and a nagar panchayat in Ghaziabad district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.-Demographics: India census, Patala had a population of 9730. Males constitute 54% of the population and females 46%. Patala has an average literacy rate of 61%, higher than the national average of...

    . In Maharashtra, it is called as Padava or Nava Diwas (new day). Men present gifts to their wives on this day. It is celebrated as the first day of the Vikram Samvat calender, in Gujarat.
  6. Yama Dwitiya or Bhaiduj (also Bhayyaduj, Bhaubeej or Bhayitika) (2 Kartika
    Kartika (month)
    Kartika , is a month of Hindu and Bengali calendars, named after the Hindu god, Kartikeya....

    or 2 Shukla Paksha
    Paksha
    Paksha , is a fortnight in a month of the Hindu lunar calendar. Literally meaning side or period, that is either side of the Full Moon Day or Purnima...

     Kartika
    Kartika (month)
    Kartika , is a month of Hindu and Bengali calendars, named after the Hindu god, Kartikeya....

    ): on this day, brothers and sisters meet to express love and affection for each other (Gujarati: Bhai Bij, Bengali: Bhai Phota). It is based on a story when Yama
    Yama
    Yama , also known as Yamarāja in India and Nepal, Shinje in Tibet, Yanluowang or simply Yan in China, Yeomla Daewang in South Korea and Enma Dai-Ō in Japan, is the lord of death, in Hinduism and then adopted into Buddhism and then further into Chinese mythology and Japanese mythology. First...

    , lord of Death, visited his sister Yami
    Yami
    In Vedic beliefs, Yamī is the first woman, along with her twin brother, Yama. The Rig Veda, in the tenth Mandala, contains a hymn in which they sing to each other. They were children of Surya, the Sun god, in his form as Vivasvat, and his wife Saranya. She is also known as Yamuna. Another name for...

     (the river Yamuna). Yami
    Yami
    In Vedic beliefs, Yamī is the first woman, along with her twin brother, Yama. The Rig Veda, in the tenth Mandala, contains a hymn in which they sing to each other. They were children of Surya, the Sun god, in his form as Vivasvat, and his wife Saranya. She is also known as Yamuna. Another name for...

     welcomed Yama
    Yama
    Yama , also known as Yamarāja in India and Nepal, Shinje in Tibet, Yanluowang or simply Yan in China, Yeomla Daewang in South Korea and Enma Dai-Ō in Japan, is the lord of death, in Hinduism and then adopted into Buddhism and then further into Chinese mythology and Japanese mythology. First...

     with an Aarti and they had a feast together. Yama
    Yama
    Yama , also known as Yamarāja in India and Nepal, Shinje in Tibet, Yanluowang or simply Yan in China, Yeomla Daewang in South Korea and Enma Dai-Ō in Japan, is the lord of death, in Hinduism and then adopted into Buddhism and then further into Chinese mythology and Japanese mythology. First...

     gave a gift to Yami while leaving as a token of his appreciation. So, the day is also called 'YAMA DWITIYA'. Brothers visit their sisters’ place on this day and usually have a meal there, and also give gifts to their sisters.

Lakshmi Puja

Diwali marks the end of the harvest
Harvest
Harvest is the process of gathering mature crops from the fields. Reaping is the cutting of grain or pulse for harvest, typically using a scythe, sickle, or reaper...

 season in most of India. Farmers give thanks for the bounty of the year gone by, and pray for a good harvest for the year to come. Traditionally this marked the closing of accounts for businesses dependent on the agrarian cycle, and is the last major celebration before winter. Lakshmi
Lakshmi
Lakshmi or Lakumi is the Hindu goddess of wealth, prosperity , light, wisdom, fortune, fertility, generosity and courage; and the embodiment of beauty, grace and charm. Representations of Lakshmi are also found in Jain monuments...

 symbolizes wealth and prosperity, and her blessings are invoked for a good year ahead.

There are two legends that associate the worship of Lakshmi on this day. According to the first legend, on this day, Lakshmi emerged from Kshira Sagar, the Ocean of Milk, during the great churning of the oceans, Samudra manthan
Samudra manthan
In Hinduism, Samudra manthan or Ksheera Sagara Mathanam, Churning of the Ocean of Milk is one of the most famous episodes in the Puranas...

. The second legend (more popular in western India) relates to the Vamana
Vamana
Vamana is described in the Puranic texts of Hinduism as the Fifth Avatar of Vishnu, and the first incarnation of the Second Age, or the Treta yuga. Also he is the first Avatar of Vishnu which appears with a completely human form, though it was that of a dwarf brahmin. He is also sometimes known as...

 avatar of the big three Vishnu, the incarnation he assumed to kill the demon king Bali
Mahabali
Mahabali , also known as Bali or Māveli was a benevolent Asura King, and the grandson of Prahlada. The festival of Onam commemorates his yearly homecoming after being sent down to the underworld by Vamana, the fifth avatar of Vishnu.-Conquest of the Universe and banishment:Bali, an asura, was the...

. On this day, Vishnu came back to his abode the Vaikuntha; so those who worship Lakshmi receive the benefit of her benevolent mood, and are blessed with mental, physical and material well-being.

As per spiritual references, on this day "Lakshmi-panchayatan" enters the Universe. Vishnu, Indra, Kubera, Gajendra and Lakshmi are elements of this "panchayatan" (a group of five).
The tasks of these elements are:
  • Lakshmi: Divine Energy (Shakti
    Shakti
    Shakti from Sanskrit shak - "to be able," meaning sacred force or empowerment, is the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe in Hinduism. Shakti is the concept, or personification, of divine feminine creative power, sometimes...

    ) which provides energy to all the above activities.
  • Vishnu: Happiness (happiness and satisfaction)
  • Kubera
    Kubera
    Kubera , also spelt Kuber, is the Lord of wealth and the god-king of the semi-divine Yakshas in Hindu mythology. He is regarded as the regent of the North , and a protector of the world His many epithets extol him as the overlord of numerous semi-divine species and the owner of the treasures of...

    : Wealth (generosity; one who shares wealth)
  • Indra
    Indra
    ' or is the King of the demi-gods or Devas and Lord of Heaven or Svargaloka in Hindu mythology. He is also the God of War, Storms, and Rainfall.Indra is one of the chief deities in the Rigveda...

    : Opulence (satisfaction due to wealth)
  • Gajendra: Carries the wealth

Diwali greetings in some major Indian languages

  • Subha Dipawali ko mangalmaya subha kaamanaa (शुभ दिपावली को मंगलमय शुभ-कामना): Greeting in Nepali
    Nepali language
    Nepali or Nepalese is a language in the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family.It is the official language and de facto lingua franca of Nepal and is also spoken in Bhutan, parts of India and parts of Myanmar...

  • Diwali ki Shubhkamnayein (दिवाली की शुभकामनाएं): Greeting in Hindi
    Hindi
    Standard Hindi, or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi, also known as Manak Hindi , High Hindi, Nagari Hindi, and Literary Hindi, is a standardized and sanskritized register of the Hindustani language derived from the Khariboli dialect of Delhi...

  • Diwali Mubarak (દીવાળી મુબારક): Greeting in Gujarati
    Gujarati language
    Gujarati is an Indo-Aryan language, and part of the greater Indo-European language family. It is derived from a language called Old Gujarati which is the ancestor language of the modern Gujarati and Rajasthani languages...

  • Tuhanu diwali diyan boht boht vadhaiyan hon (ਤੁਹਾਨੂੰ ਦਿਵਾਲੀ ਦੀਆਂ ਬਹੁਤ ਬਹੁਤ ਵਧਾਈਆਂ ਹੋਣ ): Greeting in Punjabi
    Punjabi language
    Punjabi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by inhabitants of the historical Punjab region . For Sikhs, the Punjabi language stands as the official language in which all ceremonies take place. In Pakistan, Punjabi is the most widely spoken language...

  • Deepavali Nalvaazhtukkal (தீபாவளி நல்வாழ்த்துக்கள்) :Greeting in Tamil
    Tamil language
    Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

  • Deepavali Aashamsagal ( ദീപാവലി ആശംസകള്‍ ): Greeting in Malayalam.
  • Deepavali Habbada Shubhashayagalu (ದೀಪಾವಳಿ ಹಬ್ಬದ ಶುಭಾಷಯಗಳು): Greeting in Kannada
  • Deepavali Shubhakankshalu (దీపావళి శుభాకా౦క్షలు) :Greeting in Telugu
    Telugu language
    Telugu is a Central Dravidian language primarily spoken in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, where it is an official language. It is also spoken in the neighbouring states of Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa and Tamil Nadu...

  • Shubh Diwali/ Diwalichya hardik Shubhechha (शुभ दिवाली /दिवाळीच्या हार्दिक शुभेच्छा ): Greeting in Marathi
    Marathi language
    Marathi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Marathi people of western and central India. It is the official language of the state of Maharashtra. There are over 68 million fluent speakers worldwide. Marathi has the fourth largest number of native speakers in India and is the fifteenth most...

  • Subho Diwalir Preeti O Subeccha :Greeting in Bengali
    Bengali language
    Bengali or Bangla is an eastern Indo-Aryan language. It is native to the region of eastern South Asia known as Bengal, which comprises present day Bangladesh, the Indian state of West Bengal, and parts of the Indian states of Tripura and Assam. It is written with the Bengali script...

  • "Happy Diwali!" :Greeting in English language
    English language
    English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

  • Diwali mubarak ho:Greeting in Hindi(bundelkhand) language

Spiritual Significance

While Diwali is popularly known as the "festival of lights", the most significant spiritual meaning is "the awareness of the inner light". Central to Hindu philosophy is the assertion that there is something beyond the physical body and mind which is pure, infinite, and eternal, called the Atman
Ātman (Hinduism)
Ātman is a Sanskrit word that means 'self'. In Hindu philosophy, especially in the Vedanta school of Hinduism it refers to one's true self beyond identification with phenomena...

. The celebration of Diwali as the "victory of good over evil", refers to the light of higher knowledge dispelling all ignorance, the ignorance that masks one's true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent
Immanence
Immanence refers to philosophical and metaphysical theories of divine presence, in which the divine is seen to be manifested in or encompassing of the material world. It is often contrasted with theories of transcendence, in which the divine is seen to be outside the material world...

 and transcendent
Transcendence (religion)
In religion transcendence refers to the aspect of God's nature which is wholly independent of the physical universe. This is contrasted with immanence where God is fully present in the physical world and thus accessible to creatures in various ways...

 reality. With this awakening comes compassion and the awareness of the oneness of all things (higher knowledge). This brings anand
Anand
*Ananda was one of the principal disciples of the Buddha, Siddhartha GautamaAnand may refer to:-Given name:* Anand Agarawala, Canadian software programmer and creator of BumpTop* Anand Lal Shimpi, founder and editor-in-chief of AnandTech...

(joy or peace). Just as we celebrate the birth of our physical being, Diwali is the celebration of this Inner Light.

While the story behind Diwali and the manner of celebration varies from region to region (festive fireworks, worship, lights, sharing of sweets), the essence is the same – to rejoice in the Inner Light (Atman
Atman (Hinduism)
Ātman is a Sanskrit word that means 'self'. In Hindu philosophy, especially in the Vedanta school of Hinduism it refers to one's true self beyond identification with phenomena...

) or the underlying Reality of all things (Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

).

Significance in other religions

Diwali, the Festival of Light, comes at the end of October or early November. It's a festival that Sikhs, Hindus and Jains celebrate.

Jainism

Diwali has a very special significance in Jainism
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

. It is celebrated as Deva Devali
Deva Devali
Deva Divali is a Jain festival, which takes place during the month of Kartik in the Indian lunisolar calendar, around the full moon day.. This usually falls in October/November....

 around the full moon day (Purnima
Purnima (day)
Purnima is the Indian word for Full Moon. The day of Purnima is the day in each month in which the full moon occurs, and marks the division in each month between the two lunar fortnights...

) of Kartik. Lord Mahavira, the last of the Jain Tirthankar
Tirthankar
In Jainism, a ' |ford]]-Maker", ) is a human being who achieves moksa through asceticism and who then becomes a role-model and teacher for those seeking spiritual guidance....

 of this era, attained Nirvana
Nirvana
Nirvāṇa ; ) is a central concept in Indian religions. In sramanic thought, it is the state of being free from suffering. In Hindu philosophy, it is the union with the Supreme being through moksha...

 or Moksh on this day at Pavapuri on Oct. 15, 527 BC, on Chaturdashi of Kartika, as Tilyapannatti of Yativrashaba
Yativrsabha
Yativrsabha, also known as Jadivasaha, was a mathematician, and he was a Jain. He is believed to have lived during the 6th century, probably during 500-570. He lived and worked between period of two great Indian mathematicians, Aryabhata and Brahmagupta...

 from the sixth century states:

Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara of this era, revitalised Jainism Dharma
Dharma
Dharma means Law or Natural Law and is a concept of central importance in Indian philosophy and religion. In the context of Hinduism, it refers to one's personal obligations, calling and duties, and a Hindu's dharma is affected by the person's age, caste, class, occupation, and gender...

 followed by Jains even today. Though few outdated history books still mention that he established Jainism. According to tradition, the chief disciple of Mahavira
Mahavira
Mahāvīra is the name most commonly used to refer to the Indian sage Vardhamāna who established what are today considered to be the central tenets of Jainism. According to Jain tradition, he was the 24th and the last Tirthankara. In Tamil, he is referred to as Arukaṉ or Arukadevan...

, Ganadhara Gautam Swami
Gautam Swami
The Ganadhara Gautam Swami was the chief disciple of Lord Mahavira, the 24th Jain Tirthankara. His real name was Indrabhuti Gautam, but he is after referred to as Gautama because that was his gotra. He was born in the Gochchar village in the Magadh kingdom to a Brahmin couple Vasubhuti and Prithvi...

 also attained complete knowledge (Kevalgyana) on this day, thus making Diwali one of the most important Jain festivals.

Mahavira attained his nirvana at the dawn of the amavasya
Amavasya
Amavasya is the Indian name for a New moon. The word Amavasya is common to many Indian languages especially Sanskrit, Hindi, Assamese, Kannada, Bengali, Konkani, Marathi, Oriya, Telugu, and Gujarati...

 (new moon). According to the Kalpasutra by Acharya
Acharya
In Indian religions and society, an acharya is a guide or instructor in religious matters; founder, or leader of a sect; or a highly learned man or a title affixed to the names of learned men...

 Bhadrabahu, 3rd century BC, many gods were present there, illuminating the darkness. The following night was pitch black without the light of the gods or the moon. To symbolically keep the light of their master's knowledge alive:


16 Gana-kings, 9 Malla and 9 Lichchhavi, of Kasi and Kosal, illuminated their doors. They said: "Since the light of knowledge is gone, we will make light of ordinary matter" ("गये से भवुज्जोये, दव्वुज्जोयं करिस्समो").


Dipavali was mentioned in Jain books as the date of the nirvana
Nirvana
Nirvāṇa ; ) is a central concept in Indian religions. In sramanic thought, it is the state of being free from suffering. In Hindu philosophy, it is the union with the Supreme being through moksha...

 of Mahavira
Mahavira
Mahāvīra is the name most commonly used to refer to the Indian sage Vardhamāna who established what are today considered to be the central tenets of Jainism. According to Jain tradition, he was the 24th and the last Tirthankara. In Tamil, he is referred to as Arukaṉ or Arukadevan...

. In fact, the oldest reference to Diwali is a related word, dipalikaya, which occurs in Harivamsha-Purana, written by Acharya Jinasena
Jinasena
Jinasena is the name of several famous Jain Acharyas of the Digambar tradition.* The author of Harivamsha Purana in the 8th century. He belonged to the Punnata branch of Jain monks....

 and composed in the Shaka Samvat era in the year 705.


ततस्तुः लोकः प्रतिवर्षमादरत् प्रसिद्धदीपलिकयात्र भारते |

समुद्यतः पूजयितुं जिनेश्वरं जिनेन्द्र-निर्वाण विभूति-भक्तिभाक् |२० |

tatastuh lokah prativarsham-araat
ako

prasiddha-deepalikaya-aatra bharate

samudyatah poojayitum jineshvaram

jinendra-nirvana vibhuti-bhaktibhak



Translation: The gods illuminated Pavanagari by lamps to mark the occasion. Since that time, the people of Bharat celebrate the famous festival of "Dipalika" to worship the Jinendra (i.e. Lord Mahavira) on the occasion of his nirvana.


Dipalikaya roughly translates as "light leaving the body". Dipalika, which can be roughly translated as "splendiferous light of lamps", is used interchangeably with the word "Diwali".

Vira Nirvana Samvat
Samvat
Samvat is any of the various Hindu calendars. In India, there are several calendars in use:* Vikrama Samvat: lunar months, solar sidereal years* Shaka Samvat : lunar months, solar sidereal years* Shaka Samvat : solar tropical...

: The Jain year starts with Pratipada following Diwali. Vira Nirvana Samvat
Samvat
Samvat is any of the various Hindu calendars. In India, there are several calendars in use:* Vikrama Samvat: lunar months, solar sidereal years* Shaka Samvat : lunar months, solar sidereal years* Shaka Samvat : solar tropical...

 2534 starts with Diwali 2007. The Jain business people traditionally started their accounting year from Diwali. The relationship between the Vir and Shaka era is given in Titthogali Painnaya and Dhavalaa by Acharya Virasena
Virasena
Āchārya Virasena was an 8th century Indian mathematician and Jain philosopher and scholar. He was a student of the Jain sage Elāchārya. He is also known to be a famous orator and an accomplished poet. His most reputed work is the Jain treatise Dhavala. Late Dr. Hiralal Jain places the completion of...

:

पंच य मासा पंच य वास छच्चेव होन्ति वाससया|

परिणिव्वुअस्स अरिहितो तो उप्पन्नो सगो राया||

Thus the Nirvana occurred 605 years and 5 months before the Saka era.

On 21 October 1974 the 2500th Nirvana Mahotsava was celebrated by the Jains throughout India.

Sikhism

For Sikhs, Diwali is particularly important which they celebrate after the celebration of Bandi Chhorh Divas
Bandi Chhorh Divas
Bandi Chhorh Divas is a Sikh festival which occurs during the month of Ashvin in the Indian lunisolar calendar, around the new moon day . This usually falls in October/November...

 (the Day of Freedom), celebrating the release from prison of the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, and 52 other princes with him, in October 1619.

The Sikh struggle against the Mughal Empire's atrocities against non-Muslims, especially on Sikhs, which intensified in the 18th century, came to be centered around this day. After the execution of Banda Bahadur in 1716, who had led the agrarian uprising in Punjab, the Sikhs started the tradition of deciding matters concerning the community at the biennial meetings which took place at Amritsar on the first of Baisakh and at Diwali. These assemblies were known as the Sarbat Khalsa and a resolution passed by it became a gurmata (decree of the Guru).

Diwali is celebrated by Sikhs because Guru Hargobind returned to Amritsar after his imprisonment at Gwalior where he also won the freedom of 52 innocent Princes who had long been imprisoned at Gwalior for political reasons.

From Bhai Gurdas narration we come to know the whole story. Guru Hargobind, the sixth Guru, had been arrested for political reasons. The Mughal Emperor now decided that the religious fundamentalists that had been behind the martyrdom of the fifth Guru, Guru Arjun, were a greater threat to his throne.The Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

 tradition holds that the Emperor Jahangir had imprisoned Guru Hargobind Ji and 52 princes. The Emperor was asked to release Guru Hargobind Ji which he agreed to do. However, the Guru asked that the princes be released also. The Emperor agreed, but said only those who could hold onto his cloak tail would be allowed to leave the prison. This was in order to limit the number of prisoners who could leave.
However, Guru Hargobind Ji had a cloak made with 52 pieces of string and so each prince was able to hold onto one string and leave prison.And thus the Kings/rajahs were freed and the Guru became known popularly as the "Bandi Chhor" (Deliverer from prison). He arrived at Amritsar on the Diwali day and the HarMandar (also known as the "Golden Temple") was lit with hundreds of lamps to celebrate his return and hence the day came to be known as the "Bandi Chhor Divas" (the day of freedom). Sikhs celebrated the return of their Guru by lighting the Sri Harmandir Sahib
Harmandir Sahib
The Harmandir Sahib also Darbar Sahib , also referred to as the Golden Temple, is a prominent Sikh gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab . Construction of the gurdwara was begun by Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru, and completed by his successor, Guru Arjan Dev...

 (Golden Temple) and this tradition continues today.

An important Sikh event associated with Diwali is the martyrdom of the elderly Sikh scholar and strategist Bhai Mani Singh in 1737. Bhai Mani Singh was the Granthi (keeper/reader of Sikh scripture) of Harmandir Sahib (popularly known as the Golden Temple). He transcribed the final version of Guru Granth Sahib dictated to him by Guru Gobind Singh in 1704.

Bhai Mani Singh assumed charge of Harmandir Sahib's management in 1708. In 1737, he received permission from Zakariya Khan, the then Mughal governor of Punjab, to hold a religious gathering of the Khalsa for celebrating Bandi Chhorh Diwas on the auspicious day of Diwali for a large tax of 5000 Rupees. He expected to put together the required sum from contribution made by the Sikhs who would assemble that day. But on discovered Zakariya Khan's plot to kill the Sikhs during the gathering, he sent out messages warning them not to turn up for the meeting. As a result the tax could not be paid and Zakariya Khan ordered Bhai Mani Singh's execution at Lahore.

Ever since the Bandi Chhorh Diwas celebrated during Diwali is also commemorated the martyrdom of Bhai Mani Singh. It is also believed that this event along with other Sikh martyrdoms gave further momentum to the Khalsa struggle for freedom and eventual success in establishing the Khalsa rule in the north of Delhi.

In addition to Nagar keertan (a street procession) and an Akhand paath (a continuous reading of Guru Granth Sahib), Diwali is celebrated by an awesome fireworks display. The Golden Temple as well as the whole complex is festooned with thousands of shimmering lights, creating a unique jewelbox effect.

The festival of Diwali became the second most important day after the Baisakhi, when Khalsa was formally established by the Tenth Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.

Buddhism

While not a large occasion for the Buddhist community, Newar
Newar
The Newa , Newār or Newāl) are the indigenous people and the creators of the historical civilization of Nepal's Kathmandu Valley. The valley and surrounding territory have been known from ancient times as Nepal Mandala, its limits ever changing through history.Newas have lived in the Kathmandu...

 Buddhists celebrate Diwali through the chanting of mantras and remembering Emperor Ashoka
Ashoka
Ashok Maurya or Ashoka , popularly known as Ashoka the Great, was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from ca. 269 BC to 232 BC. One of India's greatest emperors, Ashoka reigned over most of present-day India after a number of military conquests...

 who is said to have converted to Buddhism on this day, and therefore Buddhists also know the festival as Ashok Vijayadashami. Their temples and monasteries are well decorated during this time and the Buddha is worshipped with full honours.

Although Diwali is not considered a major holiday in East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

 or in most the Mahayana schools of East Asian Buddhism, the lunar calendar birthday of Bhaisajyaguru Buddha
Bhaisajyaguru
Bhaiṣajyaguru , formally Bhaiṣajyaguruvaidūryaprabharāja , is the buddha of healing and medicine in Mahāyāna Buddhism. Commonly referred to as the "Medicine Buddha", he is described as a doctor who cures suffering using the medicine of his teachings.-Origin:...

 (whose healing aspect is often in the form of burning lights) is commemorated during Diwali.

Cityscape

Gujarat

In Gujarat the Diwali celebrations take on a number of distinct characteristics.

Diwali occurs in the second (dark) lunar fortnight (Krishna Paksha
Paksha
Paksha , is a fortnight in a month of the Hindu lunar calendar. Literally meaning side or period, that is either side of the Full Moon Day or Purnima...

) of the month of Ashvin (Gujarati
Gujarati language
Gujarati is an Indo-Aryan language, and part of the greater Indo-European language family. It is derived from a language called Old Gujarati which is the ancestor language of the modern Gujarati and Rajasthani languages...

: "Aaso") and the first (bright) fortnight (Shukla Paksha) of Kartika (Guj: "Kartik"). Aaso is the last month of the Gujarati calendar, and Kartik the first.

Celebrations start earlier in Gujarat than in the rest of India, commencing on Aygaras, the 11th day of the Krishna Paksha of Aaso.
On the 12th day is Vagh Baras, the festival of the cow and the calf.
On the 13th day is Dhanteras
Dhanteras
Dhanteras is the first day of the five-day Diwali Festival as celebrated in parts of north India. The festival, also known as "Dhantrayodashi" or "Dhanvantari Triodasi", falls on the auspicious thirteenth lunar day of Krishna paksha in the Hindu calendar month of Kartik .The Dhan in Dhanteras means...

, the days Diwali starts in the rest of India.
The 14th (elsewhere known as Naraka Chaturdashi
Naraka Chaturdashi
Naraka Chaturdashi is a Hindu festival, which falls on the second day of the festival of Diwali.Kali means Dark and Chaudas - Fourteenth. Thus, celebrated on the 14th day of the dark half of Āshwin month, Kali Chaudas is the day allotted to the worship of Maha-Kali or Shakti and is believed that...

in South India and Choti Diwali in the North) is celebrated as Kali Choudas.
The 15th (new moon day) is Lakshmi Puja
Lakshmi Puja
Lakshmi puja is performed during Diwali, the festival of lights. According to tradition people would put small oil lamps outside their homes on Diwali and hope Lakshmi will come to bless them....

, celebrated throughout India.
The next day, the first day of Shukla Paksha of Kartik, is Bestu Varsh, new years day, start of the Gujarati calendar.
The 2nd day of Kartik is Bhai Bij, the day Diwali ends.

A further celebration takes place on the 5th day of Kartik, Labh Pancham.

Gujarat is also the location of the Jain festival of Deva Devali
Deva Devali
Deva Divali is a Jain festival, which takes place during the month of Kartik in the Indian lunisolar calendar, around the full moon day.. This usually falls in October/November....

, two weeks later, around the full moon day of Kartik. This takes place at the sacred mountains of Girnar
Girnar
Girnar is a collection of mountains in the Junagadh District of Gujarat, India, situated near Junagadh at a distance of 327 km from Ahmedabad. It is a holy place and an important pilgrimage for both Hindus and Jains. There are a number of temples located here. Amidst the lush green Gir...

 and Palitana
Palitana
Palitana is a city in Bhavnagar district, Gujarat, India. It is located 50 km southwest of Bhavnagar city and is a major pilgrimage centre for Jains.-History:...

, in south Gujarat.

Tamil Nadu

In Tamil Nadu it is celebrated as Deepavali. They celebrate this by taking a sesame oil bath in the early morning to commemorate the victory of Sri Krishna over Narakasura
Narakasura
In Hindu beliefs, Narakasura or Naraka is the asura son of the earth goddess Bhudevi and Lord Vishnu in his Varaha Avatar . In other sources, he is the son of the asura Hiranyaksha. He is said to have established the kingdom of Pragjyotisha in Assam after overthrowing the last of the Danava king...

; lighting lamps, deepams
Karthikai deepam
Karthigai Deepam is a festival of lights celebrated by Tamil Hindus on the full moon day of Karthigai month , which is observed in every home and in every temple. This occurs on the day when the moon is in conjunction with the constellation Karthigai and purnima...

, bursting fireworks, wearing new clothes and sharing sweets. A traditional visit to the Temple is a significant ritual of the day.
  • The city Sivakasi
    Sivakasi
    Sivakasi is an active town and a municipality in Virudhunagar District in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is the capital of India’s firecracker industry with about 8,000 factories, big and small, producing 90 percent of the total fireworks output.It is also known as "kutti japan" meaning "small...

     in Tamil Nadu is the capital of India’s firework industry with about 8,000 factories, producing 90 percent of the country's total fireworks output. It also has the world's largest fireworks manufacturing unit.

The entire house is cleaned and new clothes are purchased for the entire family which is followed by lighting of oil lamps around the house and bursting firecrackers.

Karnataka

It is celebrated as Deepavali (deepa + aavaLi > light + abundance) in Karnataka. It is celebrated on the before and next day of amavasya (No moon day) as naraka chaturdashi (before no-moon day) resembling Satyabhama
Satyabhama
Satyabhama is the third wife of Lord Krishna, known for her strong will and tantrums.She is believed to be a partial avatar of Bhudevi.-Marriage:...

's victory over narakasura and as balipadyami the first day of kaarthika masa; inviting the greatest emperor of times Balichakravarthi to each and everybody's homes.
The entire house is cleaned and new clothes are purchased for the entire family which is followed by lighting of oil lamps around the house and bursting firecrackers.
The tradition in kannada families is that all members gather together for the three days celebration. First day they'll start with bursting crackers, followed by lakshmi mahaapooje on amavaasye (no-moon day) and then on third day decorating the whole house and especially entrance with flowers and floor decoration to invite bali to their homes; a special fort-entrance kind of thing is made on the entrances of every home which is made out of cow-dung(gOmaya) and sandalwood(siri-chandana) which both have a high divine reverence in kannada tradition.
Also fire-camps are kindled on both naraka chaturdashi and balipadyami days of deepavali; where in respective community people's gathering is significant and huge firework bursting ceremony happens. Later the whole karthika maasa (till next no-moon day) is celebrated by praying kunti idol in every house; this signifies that kunti; the mother of great pandavas has come to mother's (tavaru mane in kannada) home for karthika maasa.
In villages on the third day balipadyami also known for gOvpooje (reverence to cows) all the cattle in the home are decorated gorgeously and are prayed for good will of next coming year. also gO melas happen the same day.
The celebration of Diwali is marked by the lighting of innumerable lamps in every courtyard and the bursting of crackers. Sweetmeals, new clothes and spirit is there as in other festivals. The time for rejoicing is mainly early morning and late night. These hours of darkness bordering the waking hours are preferred as lights and crackers are the highlights of the festivities and these need darkness to have their illuminating effect. Hence people rise early and go late to sleep.

Kerala

Deepavali falls on the preceding day of the New Moon in the Malayalam month Thulam (October-November). The celebrations are based on the legend of Narakasura Vadha - where Sri Krishna destroyed the demon and the day Narakasura died is celebrated as Deepavali. It commemorates the triumph of good over evil. It's celebrated with more enthusiasm in the southern parts of Kerala compared with northern Kerala. Firecrackers are burst and Ottamthullal
Ottamthullal
Ottamthullal or Ottanthullal is a type of performing art from Kerala, India. The art form was created during the 18th century by legendary Malayalam poet Kalakkaththu Kunchan Nambiar...

 performances are hosted. Exchanges of gifts and dresses are usually held. Especially on the 4th day of celebration, the ladies are invited to their father's house on the 4th day after the 'Deepavali' and given dress and money as gifts..The entire family buy new clothes, sweets and many other decorative items to decorate their home. Firecrackers are a major item found in all houses especially during diwalis. Children along with their friends and cousins have a lot of enjoyment and enthusiasm. Humongous amounts of sweets are made, some of the sweets are jelebi,,laddoo, unniappam, paalappam etc. are made at every house.They decorate their homes with diyas (or deepams) and light many fire crackers especially a stick-like cracker called as Kambithiri in Malayalam. All families decorate their homes with rangolis or flower designs.They hold a special pooja in which newly painted idols of gods are prayed to.

Andhra Pradesh

In Andhra Pradesh, the festivities start out at the crack of dawn and carry on well into the night. Most people make a trip to the local temple along with their families to seek the blessings of their respective Gods. The night sky is lit up with a scintillating array of noisy fireworks.

Diwali is one of the seven most important festivals of Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh , is one of the 28 states of India, situated on the southeastern coast of India. It is India's fourth largest state by area and fifth largest by population. Its capital and largest city by population is Hyderabad.The total GDP of Andhra Pradesh is $100 billion and is ranked third...

. It is very popular with children who celebrate Diwali because of the excitement of bursting firecrackers. Special shops to sell firecrackers are set up in all towns, cities and bigger villages. There are some traditional customs followed such as buying new clothes for this festival. Buying new home or vehicles is considered auspicious. Special sweets are made too. Some eateries in Hyderabad make some delicious sweets during Diwali which will not be available at any other time. Meat and alcohol are generally not consumed. Tradition has it that Andhraites gift sweets during Diwali. Some areas host local stage story telling called Hari Katha. Some areas may put a huge Narakasura dummy made with firecrackers. This will be burst by a person dressed as Lord Krishna or, more accurately, a costume of Satyabhama
Satyabhama
Satyabhama is the third wife of Lord Krishna, known for her strong will and tantrums.She is believed to be a partial avatar of Bhudevi.-Marriage:...

, the consort of Lord Krishna, who actually killed the demon Narakasura
Narakasura
In Hindu beliefs, Narakasura or Naraka is the asura son of the earth goddess Bhudevi and Lord Vishnu in his Varaha Avatar . In other sources, he is the son of the asura Hiranyaksha. He is said to have established the kingdom of Pragjyotisha in Assam after overthrowing the last of the Danava king...

; an event that is celebrated as Diwali for generations. The evening sky of Diwali is a colourful sight to watch.

People clean/white-wash or paint/decorate their homes as it is a very auspicious day; to welcome the goddess of wealth and prosperity i.e. Lakshmi devi to their homes. Homes are lit up with hundreds of diyas and colourful Diwali Rangolis (link) adorn the doorways. After all this preparation all the members of the family perform the Lakshmi pooja. Another custom involves decorating homes with paper figures.

Festivities cut across boundaries to move on from the small villages to the big towns, often beginning almost a month before Diwali. Sales of expensive silk saris, jewellery, ornaments, and household goods increase. From the poor to the rich, everyone indulges in the largest shopping spree of the year. Sweets, which are an integral part of any festival in Andhra Pradesh, are prepared or purchased from shops. The festival is full of messages depicting one or more aspects of human life, relationships, and ancient traditions.

Maharashtra

In Maharashtra
Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

, Diwali starts from Vasubaras which is the 12th day of the 2nd half of the Marathi month Ashvin
Ashvin
Ashvin , also known as Aswayuja, is the seventh month of the lunisolar Hindu calendar, the Tamil solar calendar where it is known as Aipassi and the solar India's national civil calendar. It is the sixth month of the solar Bengali calendar. It falls in the season of Shôrot, or Autumn...

. This day is celebrated by performing an Aarti
Aarti
Aarti , also spelled arathi, aarthi is a Hindu religious ritual of worship, a form of puja, in which light from wicks soaked in ghee or camphor is offered to one or more deities...

of the cow and its calf - which is a symbol of love between mother and her baby.

The next day is Dhana Trayodashi. This day is of special importance for traders and business people. It is also considered an auspicious day for making important purchases, especially metals, including kitchenware and precious metals like silver and gold.

This is followed by Naraka Chaturdashi. On this day people get up early in the morning and take their bath before sunrise while stars are still visible. Bathing is an elaborate process on this day with abundant use of ‘ubtans’, oils and perfumes, and is preceded by an Aarti
Aarti
Aarti , also spelled arathi, aarthi is a Hindu religious ritual of worship, a form of puja, in which light from wicks soaked in ghee or camphor is offered to one or more deities...

 performed on the person by some lady, usually mother or wife. The whole process is referred to as ‘abhyanga-snaan’.

Then comes Lakshmi- pooja. It occurs on Amavasya i.e. no moon day. The dark night is illuminated by lamps and at dusk firecrackers are burst. New account books are opened after a pooja. Generally the traders do not make any payments on that day (according to their belief Lakshmi should not be given away but must come home). In every household, cash, jewellery and an idol of the goddess Lakshmi is worshipped. Friends, neighbours and relatives are invited over and celebrations are in full swing. The broom used to clean one's house is also worshipped as a symbol of Lakshmi in some places .

Padwa is the 1st day of the new month – Kartik
Kartika (month)
Kartika , is a month of Hindu and Bengali calendars, named after the Hindu god, Kartikeya....

in the Hindu calendar. It marks the start of Hindu financial year. Its a special day for Husband and wife. The wife puts tilak on her husbands forehead and gets an expensive gift. In recent times there is a growing trend of organising a cultural event called 'Diwali Padwa' early in the morning.

Bhaubeej – it is the time when the bond of love between a brother and sister is further strengthened as the sister asks God for her brother/s' long and successful life while she receives presents from her beloved brothers.

Orissa

Deepavali is celebrated with great joy. Rows of oil lamps, candles adorn the thresholds of all houses. Firecrackers are burst, sweetmeals are relished and distributed. Some people also worship family goddess. Tarpanam is done in the morning of deepavali. All the members of the household gather together just after dusk. A rangoli(Muruja) of a sailboat is made on the ground. The boat has seven chambers in north,ten chamber in east,and twelve chamber in south.the east chamber are meant for gods.north chamber for seer or Rishi and south chambers for manes and forefathers. Over the drawing of each different chamber several items are kept - cotton, mustard, salt, asparagus root, turmeric,sweets,cakes and a wild creeper. Over the central chamber are the offerings meant for [prasad]. Perched over the prasad is a jute stem with a cloth wick tied around the edge. It is lit at the beginning of the puja. All members of the family hold a bundle of jute stems in their hands, Lighting their respective bundles from the flame on the rangoli, they raise them skywards fo their forefathers chanting:
Badabadua ho andhaara e asa Aluaa e Jaao
Baaisi pahacha e Gadagadau thaao
(meaning-oh our ancestors,seers and gods you came on the dark night of Mahalaya,and now it is time for you to depart for heaven,so we are showing light,may you attain peace in abode of Jagannatha)

Beside the rangoli, a mortar and pestle and a plough are also kept and worshiped. After the puja and offerings, the family celebrates Diwali festival by bursting firecrackers. As in other regions, most people prefer to celebrate it in their own homes, though family gatherings are also common. For Diwali houses are brightly lit, with the doors and windows kept open as Lakshmi is supposed to visit every home, and you can't afford to leave it dark and abandoned. Various kinds of Pitha
Pitha
Pitha , or pithe is a type of cake or bread common in Bangladesh and India, especially the eastern states of Assam, Orissa, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, and the northeastern region. Pithas are typically made of rice flour, although there are some types of pitha made of wheat flour...

s are prepared and given to the deities and forefathers, and enjoyed with family and friends. The ritual of Kali Puja
Kali Puja
Kali Puja or Shyama Puja is a festival dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali, celebrated on the new moon day of the Hindu month Ashwin in Bengal. It coincides with the pan-Indian Lakshmi Puja day of Diwali...

 is a famous affair in puri
Puri
Puri is district headquarter, a city situated about south of state capital Bhubaneswar, on the eastern coast of the Bay of Bengal in the Indian state of Orissa. It is also known as Jagannath Puri after the Jagannath Temple . It is a holy city of the Hindus as a part of the Char Dham pilgrimages...

, Bhadrak
Bhadrak
Bhadrak is a city and a municipality in Bhadrak district in the state of Orissa, India.-Demographics: India census, Bhadrak had a population of 1,33,4000. Males constitute 52% of the population and females 48%. Bhadrak has an average literacy rate of 73.86, higher than the national average of...

, Rourkela
Rourkela
Rourkela is located in the northwestern tip of the Indian state of Orissa at the heart of a rich mineral belt. It is situated about north of state capital Bhubaneswar.It is surrounded by a range of hills and encircled by rivers. One of the largest steel plants of the Steel Authority of India...

, Cuttack
Cuttack
Cuttack is the former capital of the state of Orissa, India. It is the headquarters of Cuttack district and is located about 20 km to the north east of Bhubaneswar, the capital of Orissa. The name of the city is an anglicised form of Kataka that literally means The Fort, a reference to the...

 &Jajpur area.

Mithilanchal, West Bengal & Assam

Kali Puja
Kali Puja
Kali Puja or Shyama Puja is a festival dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali, celebrated on the new moon day of the Hindu month Ashwin in Bengal. It coincides with the pan-Indian Lakshmi Puja day of Diwali...

 is light-up night for Mithila
Mithila
Mithila was a city in Ancient India, the capital of the Videha Kingdom. The name Mithila is also commonly used to refer to the Videha Kingdom itself, as well as to the modern-day territories that fall within the ancient boundaries of Videha...

 region in Bihar, West Bengal
West Bengal
West Bengal is a state in the eastern region of India and is the nation's fourth-most populous. It is also the seventh-most populous sub-national entity in the world, with over 91 million inhabitants. A major agricultural producer, West Bengal is the sixth-largest contributor to India's GDP...

 & Assam
Assam
Assam , also, rarely, Assam Valley and formerly the Assam Province , is a northeastern state of India and is one of the most culturally and geographically distinct regions of the country...

, corresponding to the festival of Diwali , (in Maithili, it is known as Diya-Baati) where people light diyas/candles in memory of the souls of departed ancestors. The goddess Kali
Kali
' , also known as ' , is the Hindu goddess associated with power, shakti. The name Kali comes from kāla, which means black, time, death, lord of death, Shiva. Kali means "the black one". Since Shiva is called Kāla - the eternal time, Kālī, his consort, also means "Time" or "Death" . Hence, Kāli is...

 is worshipped for whole night on one night during this festival. This is also a night of fireworks
Fireworks
Fireworks are a class of explosive pyrotechnic devices used for aesthetic and entertainment purposes. The most common use of a firework is as part of a fireworks display. A fireworks event is a display of the effects produced by firework devices...

, with local youth burning sparklers and firecrackers throughout the night. Both the traditions of worshiping the Goddess Kali as well as Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha is prevalent in the Mithila
Mithila
Mithila was a city in Ancient India, the capital of the Videha Kingdom. The name Mithila is also commonly used to refer to the Videha Kingdom itself, as well as to the modern-day territories that fall within the ancient boundaries of Videha...

 region. Kali puja
Kali Puja
Kali Puja or Shyama Puja is a festival dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali, celebrated on the new moon day of the Hindu month Ashwin in Bengal. It coincides with the pan-Indian Lakshmi Puja day of Diwali...

 is also known by the names of Shyama puja or Nisha puja in the Mithila
Mithila
Mithila was a city in Ancient India, the capital of the Videha Kingdom. The name Mithila is also commonly used to refer to the Videha Kingdom itself, as well as to the modern-day territories that fall within the ancient boundaries of Videha...

 region.

Goa and Konkan

Diwali begins in Konkan and Goa on the day of Naraka Chaturdashi. The houses are cleaned and decorated with Kandil, lamps, mango leaves, and marigold flowers. The utensils are made to shine, filled with water, and decorated for the holy bath the following morning. On this day, paper-made effigies of Narakasura
Narakasura
In Hindu beliefs, Narakasura or Naraka is the asura son of the earth goddess Bhudevi and Lord Vishnu in his Varaha Avatar . In other sources, he is the son of the asura Hiranyaksha. He is said to have established the kingdom of Pragjyotisha in Assam after overthrowing the last of the Danava king...

, filled with grass and firecrackers symbolising evil, are made. These effigies are burnt at around four o'clock in the morning the following day/ Firecrackers are burst, and people return home to take a scented oil bath. Lamps are lit in a lineThe women of the house perform aarti
Aarti
Aarti , also spelled arathi, aarthi is a Hindu religious ritual of worship, a form of puja, in which light from wicks soaked in ghee or camphor is offered to one or more deities...

 of the men, gifts are exchanged,a bitter berry called as kareet is crushed under the feet in token of killing Narkasur, symbolising evil and removal of ignorance. Different varieties of Poha
Poha
Poha may refer to:* Physalis peruviana , species of plant* Poha , food made from rice...

 and sweets are made and eaten with family and friends. Festivities continue till Tulsi Vivah
Tulsi Vivah
Tulsi Vivah is a 1971 Bollywood fantasy drama film based on mythology. Directed by Chandrakant, the film stars Jayshree Gadkar and Anita Guha .-Cast:*Abhi Bhattacharya ... Bhagwan Shri Vishnu*Jayshree Gadkar ... Vrunda...

 and lamps are lit every evening. Celebrations include Lakshmi puja on the Diwali day, Krishna puja or Govardhan puja and cattle worship on Balipratipada
Balipratipada
' is the third day of Dipavali , the Hindu festival of lights. It is celebrated in honour of the notional return of the demon-king Bali to earth. Bali Padyami falls in the Gregorian calendar months October-November. It is the first day of the Hindu month Kartika and is the first day of the bright...

 day, Bhaubeej, and Tulsi vivah.

Melas

To add to the festival of Diwali, fairs (or 'mela
Mela
Mela is a Sanskrit word meaning 'gathering' or 'to meet' or a Fair. It is used in the Indian subcontinent for all sizes of gathering and can be religious, commercial, cultural or sports. In rural traditions melas or village fairs were of great importance...

s') are held throughout India. Melas are to be found in many towns and villages. A mela generally becomes a market day in the countryside when farmers buy and sell produce. Girls and women dress attractively during the festival. They wear colourful clothing and new jewellery, and their hands are decorated
Mehndi
Mehndi or menhdi is the application of henna as a temporary form of skin decoration in India, as well as by expatriate communities from the country. The word mehndi is derived from the Sanskrit word mendhikā. The use of mehndi and turmeric is described in the earliest Vedic ritual books...

 with henna
Henna
Henna is a flowering plant used since antiquity to dye skin, hair, fingernails, leather and wool. The name is also used for dye preparations derived from the plant, and for the art of temporary tattooing based on those dyes...

 designs.
Among the many activities that take place at a mela are performances by jugglers, acrobats
Acrobatics
Acrobatics is the performance of extraordinary feats of balance, agility and motor coordination. It can be found in many of the performing arts, as well as many sports...

, snake charmers
Snake charming
Snake charming is the practice of pretending to hypnotise a snake by playing an instrument. A typical performance may also include handling the snakes or performing other seemingly dangerous acts, as well as other street performance staples, like juggling and sleight of hand...

 and fortune tellers. Food stalls are set up, selling sweet and spicy foods. There are a variety of rides at the fair, which include Ferris wheel
Ferris wheel
A Ferris wheel is a nonbuilding structure consisting of a rotating upright wheel with passenger cars attached to the rim in such a way that as the wheel turns, the cars are kept upright, usually by gravity.Some of the largest and most modern Ferris wheels have cars mounted on...

s and rides on animals such as elephants and camels. Activities for children, such as puppet shows, occur throughout the day.
In other parts of the world

Diwali is celebrated in various parts of the world, particularly those with large populations of Hindu and Sikh origin. These include countries such as Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

, Myanmar
Myanmar
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

, Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, Malaysia, Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, Fiji
Fiji
Fiji , officially the Republic of Fiji , is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about northeast of New Zealand's North Island...

, Mauritius
Mauritius
Mauritius , officially the Republic of Mauritius is an island nation off the southeast coast of the African continent in the southwest Indian Ocean, about east of Madagascar...

, Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

, Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

, South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, Guyana
Guyana
Guyana , officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, previously the colony of British Guiana, is a sovereign state on the northern coast of South America that is culturally part of the Anglophone Caribbean. Guyana was a former colony of the Dutch and of the British...

, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is an archipelagic state in the southern Caribbean, lying just off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles...

,( Zimbabwe) the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. With more and more Indians now migrating to various parts of the world, the number of countries where Diwali / Deepavali is celebrated has been gradually increasing. While in some countries it is celebrated mainly by Indian expatriates, in others it has become part of the general local culture. In most of these countries Diwali is celebrated on the same lines as described in this article with some minor variations. Some important variations are worth mentioning.

In Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

, Diwali is known as "Tihar" or "Swanti". It is celebrated during the October/November period. Here the festival is celebrated for five days and the traditions vary from those followed in India. On the first day (Kaag tihar), crows are given offerings, considering them to be divine messengers. On the second day (Kukur tihar), dogs are given food for their honesty. On the third day, Laxmi puja is performed. This is the last day according to Nepal Sambat, so many of the businessmen clear their accounts on this day and on finishing it, worship goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. The fourth day is celebrated as new year. Cultural processions and other celebrations are observed in this day. The Newars celebrate it as "Maha Puja", a special ritual in which the body is worshipped to keep it fit and healthy for the year ahead on this day. On the fifth and final day called "Bhai Tika", brothers and sisters meet and exchange gifts.

In Nepal, family gathering is more significant during Diwali. People in the community play "Deusi and Bhailo" which is a kind of singing and dancing forming a group. People go to all the houses in the community and play songs and dance, and give blessing to the visited house, whereas the home owner gives some food like rice grains, Roti, fruits and money. After the festival, people donate some part of collected money and food to the charity or welfare groups and rest of the money and food, they go for picnic. People also play swing called Dore Ping made out of thick ropes and Pirke Ping or Rangate Ping made out of woods.

In Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

, this festival is also called "Deepavali" and is celebrated by the Tamil
Tamil people
Tamil people , also called Tamils or Tamilians, are an ethnic group native to Tamil Nadu, India and the north-eastern region of Sri Lanka. Historic and post 15th century emigrant communities are also found across the world, notably Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, South Africa, Australia, Canada,...

 community. On this day, it is traditional for people to take an oil bath in the morning, wear new clothes, exchange gifts, performing Poosai(Pūjā
Puja
Pūjā or alternative transliteration Pooja, is a religious ritual performed by Hindus as an offering to various deities, distinguished persons, or special guests...

), and a visit to the Koil
Koil
Koil or Kovil "King's House" is the Tamil term for a distinct style of Hindu temple with Dravidian architecture.The koil in Tamil Nadu and kovil of Ceylon has a long history and has always been associated with the ruler of the time. Most kings patronised temple building in their kingdom, and...

(Hindu Temple
Hindu temple
A Mandir, Devalayam, Devasthanam, or a Hindu temple is a place of worship for followers of Hinduism...

) is normal. Burning of firecrackers in the evening of the festival is a common practice of this festival. Hindus light oil lamps to invite the blessings of Lakshmi
Lakshmi
Lakshmi or Lakumi is the Hindu goddess of wealth, prosperity , light, wisdom, fortune, fertility, generosity and courage; and the embodiment of beauty, grace and charm. Representations of Lakshmi are also found in Jain monuments...

, the goddess of wealth and to banish any evil from the household for once and for all. The festival is marked by illumination, making of toys of enamel and making of figures out of crystal sugar popularly known as Misiri. Srilanka's celebration include many of the traditional aspects of Deepavali such as games, fireworks, singing and dancing, however the tradition of a large meal and fireworks are admirably preserved.

In Malaysia, Diwali festival is celebrated during the seventh month of the Hindu solar calendar. It is a federal public holiday throughout Malaysia. In many respects it resembles the traditions followed in the Indian subcontinent. 'Open houses' are held where Hindu Malaysians (Of all ethnic races like Tamils,Telugus and Malayalees) welcome fellow Malaysians of different races and religions to their house for a scrumptious meal. This is a practice unique to Malaysia and shows the goodwill and friendly ties practiced by all Malaysians during any festive occasion.

In Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, Diwali festival is a gazetted public holiday
Holidays in Singapore
The 11 major public holidays in Singapore reflect the cultural and religious diversity of the country. They include the Chinese New Year, the Buddhist holiday Vesak Day, the Muslim holidays Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Haji, the Hindu holiday Deepavali, and the Christian holidays of Good Friday...

. Observed primarily by the minority Indian community (Tamils), it is typically marked by a light-up in the Little India
Little India, Singapore
Little India is an ethnic neighbourhood found in Singapore that has Tamil cultural elements. Little India lies to east of the Singapore River—across from Chinatown, located west of the river—and north of Kampong Glam. Both areas are part of the urban planning area of Rochor...

 district, the heart of the Indian community. Apart from the light-up, other activities such as bazaars, exhibitions, parades and concerts will also take place in Little India. The Hindu Endowment Board of Singapore along with Singapores' government organizes many of these cultural events during this festive period.

In Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is an archipelagic state in the southern Caribbean, lying just off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles...

, communities all over the islands
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 get together and celebrate the festival. One major celebration that stands out is the Diwali Nagar, or Village of the Festival of Lights. It features stage performances by the east Indian cultural practitioners, a folk theatre featuring skits and plays, an exhibition on some aspect of Hinduism, displays by various Hindu religious sects and social organizations, nightly worship of Lakshmi, lighting of deeyas, performances by various schools related to Indian culture, and a food court with Indian and non-Indian vegetarian delicacies. The festival culminates with magnificent fireworks displays ushering in Diwali. Thousands of people participate in an atmosphere devoid of alcohol and in a true family environment.

In Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, Hindus celebrate Diwali with great enthusiasm. People clean and decorate their homes with lamps and candles. A popular type of candle is a diya
Diya (light)
A Diya, divaa, deepam, or deepak is an oil lamp usually made from clay, with a cotton wick dipped in ghee or vegetable oils....

. People also give each other sweets such as laddoo and barfi
Barfi
Barfi, sometimes burfi or burfee , is a sweet confection from the Indian subcontinent. Plain barfi is made from condensed milk, cooked with sugar until it solidifies. There are many varieties of barfi, which include besan barfi , kaaju barfi , and pista barfi...

, and the different communities may gather for a religious ceremony and get-together. It is also an important time to contact family in India and perhaps exchange gifts. Diwali is becoming well known in Britain and some non-Indians join in. Leicester
Leicester
Leicester is a city and unitary authority in the East Midlands of England, and the county town of Leicestershire. The city lies on the River Soar and at the edge of the National Forest...

 plays hosts to some of the biggest celebrations outside of India. Diwali also coincides with British Bonfire Night
Guy Fawkes Night
Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night and Firework Night, is an annual commemoration observed on 5 November, primarily in England. Its history begins with the events of 5 November 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding...

 traditions on November the 5th. In the East End of London, a kind of joint festival has evolved where everyone enjoys the same fire and fireworks for their own diverse reasons.

In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, with increasing Indian population, Diwali is assuming significant importance year after year. Diwali was first celebrated in the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

 in 2003 and was given official status by the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 in 2007. Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 became the first president to personally attend Diwali at the White House in 2009. On the eve of his first visit to India as the President of United States, Obama released an official statement sharing best wishes with "Hindus" for Diwali. Indians in the US celebrate Diwali in different parts of the US, just as in India. The Diwali Mela in Cowboys Stadium boasted an attendance of 100,000 people in 2009. In 2009, San Antonio became the first U.S. city to sponsor an official Diwali celebration including a fireworks display and 5000 people in attendance. In 2011, The Pierre in New York City, now operated by Tata Group
Tata Group
Tata Group is an Indian multinational conglomerate company headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. Tata Group is one of the largest companies in India by market capitalization and revenue. It has interests in communications and information technology, engineering, materials, services, energy,...

's Taj Hotels, hosted its first Diwali celebration.

In Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, Diwali is celebrated publicly among the people of Indian origin and the local Australians in Melbourne. On 21 July 2002 an organisation “The Australian Indian Innovations Incorporated” (AIII) consisting of a conglomerate of independent organisations and individuals was formed to celebrate Indian Festivals In Melbourne. AIII facilitated opportunities to depict the cultural kaleidoscope of India and assist Indians in Melbourne to showcase Indian art, culture, style, traditions and food via various activities, seminars, festivals, fairs and events. The first Inaugural Diwali Festival-2002”, was held at Sandown Race Course on Sunday 13 October 2002. Since then until October 2008, about 140000 people visited this Australian Indian Cultural Extravaganza filled with culture, fun and cuisine. This 10 Hour Festival is depicting India through 50 Stalls, 10 Food stalls and an 8 hour cultural programme with DJ, Children's rides and spectacular fire works over the last 7 years.

Other place where Diwali is celebrated in Melbourne is Sri Shiva Vishnu Temple, Carrum Downs. Food stalls are present and children fun rides. Later on in the evening a spectacular fireworks show is displayed.

In New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, Diwali is celebrated publicly among many of the South Asian diaspora cultural groups. There are main public festivals in Auckland and Wellington, with other events around the country becoming more popular and visible. An official reception has been held at the New Zealand Parliament since 2003.
Diwali is celebrated by Hindus. The festival signifies the triumph of light over darkness, justice over injustice, good over evil and intelligence over ignorance. Lakshmi Mata is worshipped at this festival. Lakshmi Mata is the goddess of light, wealth and beauty. Special Divali foods are barfi and Prasad.
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