Diwali, also called Deepavali or Dipavali, the Hindu festival of lights,
is the most popular and special of all Hindu festivals. It is also an
occasion for celebration by *Jains and *Sikhs.
The festival of Diwali extends over five days. The date of Diwali is set
by the Hindu calendar so it varies in the Western calendar. It usually falls
in October or November and because of the lights, fireworks and sweets
involved, it's a great favourite with children.
The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over
darkness and knowledge over ignorance, although the actual legends that go
with the festival are different in different parts of India.
*In Jainism people come together over three days and celebrate the
Nirvana of Lord Mahavira and welcome in the New Year. Whereas for Sikhs,
Diwali celebrates the release of the Guru, Hargobind Ji from imprisonment
and people celebrate by lighting the way to the Golden Temple.
The Traditional Five Days of Diwali Include these Special Events
On the first day of Diwali, housewives consider it
auspicious to spring clean the home and shop for gold or kitchen
On the second day, people decorate their homes
with clay lamps or "diyas" and create design patterns called *"rangoli"
on the floor using coloured powders or sand.
This is the main day of the festival when
families gather together for "Lakshmi puja", a prayer to Goddess Lakshmi
followed by mouth-watering feasts and firework festivities.
This is the first day of the new year when
friends and relatives visit with gifts and best wishes for the season.
On the last day of Diwali, brothers visit their married
sisters who welcome them with love and a lavish meal.
*Example of a
rangoli pattern, see right.
Lakshmi - Consort of the
Lakshmi is the consort of the god Vishnu. She is considered to be one of
the most popular goddesses of Hindu mythology and is known as the goddess of
wealth and purity. Lakshmi is commonly portrayed as a beautiful woman with
four arms, standing on a lotus flower. There is usually one, or sometimes
two elephants behind her, anointing her with water. She is often depicted
sitting beneath Vishnu, massaging his feet.
Hindus believe that anybody who worships Lakshmi sincerely, and not in
greed, will be blessed with fortune and success. It is said that Lakshmi
resides in places of hard work, virtue and bravery, but leaves whenever
these qualities are not apparent any more.
Lakshmi is particularly worshipped during the festival of Diwali.
When is Dwali? - Dates
2010 5th November, Friday
2011 26th October, Wednesday
2012 13th November, Tuesday
2013 3rd November,
2014 23rd October, Thursday
2015 11th November, Wednesday
2016 30th October, Sunday
2017 19th October, Thursday
2019 27th October, Sunday
See the Indian festivals of Nirvana, Kumbh Mela, Magh Mela and
When and What is Diwali?
Hindus calculate the the date of Diwali as 15 days from the full moon of
Kartik. Thus Diwali falls on the amavasya or the no moon day.
Incidentally, this is 20 days after Dussehra (Vijaya Dashmi).
Diwali (also spelt Divali in other countries) or Dīpāvali (Tamil:
தீபாவளி, Gujarati: દિવાળી, Hindi: दिवाली, Kannada: ದೀಪಾವಳಿ, Konkani: धाकली
दिवाळी, Malayalam: ദീപാവലി, Marathi: दिवाळी, Nepali: दिपावली, Oriya:
ଦୀପାବଳୀ, Sanskrit: दीपावली, Telugu: దీపావళి, Urdu: دیوالی), also popularly
known as the Festival of Lights, is an important 5-day festival in Hinduism,
Sikhism and Jainism, occurring between mid-October and mid-November. Diwali
is an official holiday in India , Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Malaysia,
Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Fiji.
The name Diwali is itself a contraction of the word Dīpāvali दीपावली (Dīpāvali),
which translates into row of lamps (din Sanskrit). Diwali involves the
lighting of small clay lamps (divas) (or Deep in Sanskrit: दीप) filled with
oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. During Diwali celebrants wear
new clothes and share sweets and snacks with others. Some Indian business
communities begin the financial year on the first day of Diwali wishing for
good luck the following year.
In Hinduism, Diwali marks the return of Lord Rama to his kingdom of
Ayodhya after defeating (the demon king) Ravana, the ruler of Lanka in the
epic Ramayana. It also celebrates the slaying of the demon king Narakasura
by Lord Krishna. Both signify the victory of good over evil. In Jainism,
Diwali marks the attainment of moksha by Mahavira in 527 BC. In
Sikhism, Diwali commemorates the return of Guru Har Gobind Ji to Amritsar
after freeing 52 Hindu kings imprisoned in Fort Gwalior by Emperor Jahangir;
the people lit candles and divas to celebrate his return, which is why Sikhs
also refer to Diwali as Bandi Chhorh Divas, "the day of release of
detainees". Diwali is considered a national festival in India and Nepal.
Diwali Festival of Lights in the UK
In Britain, as in India, the festival of lights is a time for thoroughly
spring-cleaning the home, wearing new clothes and most importantly,
decorating buildings with fancy lights. The English city of Leicester is
noted particularly for its Diwali celebrations.
Diwali Lanterns photographed in Trafalgar Square, London, England
Popular Diwali Stories for this Special Occasion
The Killing of the Demon Ravana
Ravana, who had ten arms and ten heads, was the wicked king of the island
of Sri Lanka, who kidnapped the wife of Rama. Rama had been in exile for 14
years because of a disagreement as to whether he or his brother should be
the next king in Ayodhya.
After a great battle Rama killed the demon and
recovered his wife. Rama's return with his wife Sita to Ayodhya and his
subsequent coronation as king is celebrated at Diwali.
When Rama and Sita
first returned to Ayodhya it was a dark moonless night and they couldn't see
where they were going. Their people put little lamps outside their houses so
that the new king and queen could find their way.
This was the beginning the tradition of the festival of
The Legend of King Bali
Another enjoyable legend is that of King Bali of the underworld; his
mighty power had become a threat to the gods who were gravely concerned.
In order to curb his powers Lord Vishnu in the guise of a "Batu Waman", a
small boy, visited him and begged him to give him only that much land which
he could cover with his three steps.
Known for his philanthropy, King Bali proudly granted him his wish. That
very moment that small boy transformed himself into the all-powerful Lord
With his first step Lord Vishnu covered the entire heaven and with the
second step the earth and asked Bali where to keep his third step. Bali
offered his head. Putting his foot on his head Vishnu pushed him down to the
At the same time for his generosity, Lord Vishnu gave him the lamp of
knowledge and allowed him to return to earth once a year to light millions
of lamps to dispel darkness and ignorance and spread the radiance of love
The Funny Flight
Madhul was flying home to see her
family to celebrate Diwali with them. Fifteen minutes into the flight from
Bombay to Delhi, the captain announced, 'Ladies and gentlemen, one of our
engines has failed. There is nothing to worry about. Our flight will take an
hour longer than scheduled, but we still have three engines left.'
Thirty minutes later the captain announced, 'One more engine has failed
and the flight will take an additional two hours. But don't worry . . .we
can fly just fine on two engines.'
An hour later the captain announced, 'One more engine has failed and our
arrival will be delayed another hour. But don't worry... we still have one
Madhul, turned to the man in the next seat and sighed and she said, 'If
we lose one more engine, we'll be up here all day.'
See more Diwali stories.