Diwali is an Indian and Nepalese Hindu festival that is celebrated around the end of October.
The actual date of the festival is not the same each year because it is based upon lunar months. In southern India, the festival starts in the month of Ashwin and ends in Kartika. In northern India the festival is in the middle of Ashwayuja/Ashvin. The festival happens at almost the same time all over India and Nepal – it’s a bit confusing because each of the regions uses its own calendar.
The next celebration of Diwali is on October 28th, 2008 in the Gregorian calendar.
The festival is well known throughout the world as the Festival of Lights.
The festival is called the Festival of Lights because of the tradition of lighting clay lamps all over Hindu homes on Diwali night.
There are 3 main reasons for lighting the lamps.
The first is so that the gods Rama and Sita can find their way to return to their northern India home of Ayodhya.
The second reason is that, to Hindus, darkness represents ignorance whereas light represents knowledge. So the lighting of lamps dispels the dark forces of ignorance and all of the negatives forces (evil, anger, greed, injustice, fear, violence, envy, suffering and oppression) and replaces them with the light of knowledge.
Diwali falls over the start of the Hindu financial year and the third purpose of the lights is to welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity.
Friends give each other gifts of sweetmeats, nuts and dried fruit and Diwali day is spent eating these delicacies along with cooked savoury snacks.
With Hindu migration nowadays Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated all over the world with parades, music, dance, food and fireworks.
Do go to a Diwali celebration if you get the chance. There is always great entertainment and the food is delicious.