Diwali Festival is known worldwide as one of the most jubilant of the Indian festivals. But how much do you know about it? Find out more about the famous Festival of Light.
Diwali is celebrated in India and in Indian communities all over the world over five days between mid-October and mid-November. The date of the festival varies as it is set by the lunar calendar, but the dates in 2012 are November 13th to 17th. Known primarily as a Hindu festival, it is in fact a time of celebration for Jains and Sikhs too.
Broadly speaking, Diwali Festival celebrates the victory of light over darkness, which symbolises the triumph of good over evil and knowledge of ignorance. The myths and legends that surround the festival vary according to the part of India in which you find yourself, but what dominates proceedings is an affirmation of hope, a general sense of bonhomie and goodwill and of course – loads and loads of fireworks, sweets and presents.
In northern India, Diwali commemorates the end of Rama’s 14-year exile and his coronation as king. In Gujarat, Lakshmi the goddess of wealth is the focus, making Diwali a particularly good period for business people. In Nepal, festival-goers celebrate the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon king Narakaasura, and in Bengal Diwali is more closely associated with the Hindu goddess Kali.
Whatever the preference or the legend surrounding the festival, there are some common threads – Diwali is a time for spring-cleaning the home, wearing new clothes and decorating buildings with lights. It’s a festive celebration, and the fireworks, sweets and lights make it a hit with the kids.