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What is Diwali?

Diwali or Deepavali, commonly known as the festival of lights, is one of the major festivals celebrated by more than a billion people across India. During the festival, Indians light up their houses as a symbol of protection from spiritual darkness. The name Diwali is derived from a Sanskrit word ‘’Dipa’’ which means light, lamp, candle and ‘’Avali’’ means to be in a row, series or continuous line.

diwali - row of lights

This 5 days festival is filled with celebrations including lighting up of houses, streets, buildings; preparation and sharing of traditional Diwali sweets; making Rangoli which are the arts and colorful patterns on the ground using colored powders; shopping; and visiting family and friends. The preparation for Diwali normally starts a week before the celebration.


Celebration of Diwali

Diwali is celebrated widely across Indians by a majority of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Newar Buddhists. The festival has many interpretations of different historical stories among religions, however, the message for celebration is common for all: good triumphs over evil.
For a majority of believers, Diwali honors the arrival of goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. The row of lights is meant to guide the goddess in finding her way to people’s homes and bless them with prosperity for the years to come.

India is one of the most religious countries in the world and home to billions of people with different spiritual beliefs. As years go by, the country sees more and more people from different religions enjoy Diwali by spreading joy and light around the world. Interestingly, it is not only celebrated in India, other countries like the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, and more, have encouraged Indians to celebrate their biggest festival by fireworks display, lighting up their houses, streets and prominent places.

Fun fact, in the UK – the Leicester city is known to host the largest Diwali celebrations outside India. Tens of thousands of people come to celebrate each year, except in 2020 which was done virtually. Apart from the social and cultural celebrations, many Hindus living inside and outside of India visit their place of worship, known as Mandirs (Temple) to offer their prayers. Temples are decorated with flowers and lights creating an eye-pleasing and spiritual experience for its worshipers and visitors.



From their childhood years, Diwali is a festival that Indian families will always look forward to. Schools would be closed for about 10 days, children would get new clothes and gifts from their parents and relatives, a lot of sweets, bursting firecrackers, and many more. Diwali has always brought light and happiness around the community and played an important role within the Indian culture, allowing people to come together regardless of their cultural differences and traditional beliefs. You might find it interesting that many people find Diwali a reason to mend their rifts between each other and become friends to celebrate the good over evil.


Nationalgeographic / Kids