"The Festival of Lights"

What is Diwali and Who Celebrates it?

The word Diwali comes from the Sanskrit word dipavali which means "row of lights". It is a major religious festival celebrated by many different religions. Diwali usually takes place in late October or November. To the Jain community, Diwali marks the death of Mahavira. Mahavira is the last of the saints to find Jainism. During Diwali, they light lamps as a substitute for the light that was put out with Mahavira's death. To the Sikhism community, Diwali marks the day that Guru Hargobind Ji was free from imprisonment. He was the sixth Sikh Guru. During Diwali, they celebrate the return of Guru Jargobind Ji by lighting the ancient Sikh Golden Temple. Diwali is also celebrated by the Hindus. To them it marks the beginning of the new year in the Hindu calendar. During Diwali, they honor the Hindu goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. Even though Diwali is celebrated by many different religions, there is one common things among all interpretations of this festival, and the common thing is that the festival marks victories of good over evil.
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This is a picture of an Indian Sikh devotee lighting oil lamps at the Golden Temple for Diwali in Amritsar, Punjab, India. They are doing this in memory of the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, who was freed from imprisonment.

How do the Hindus Interpret Diwali?

Diwali is one of the major religious festivals in Hinduism. This day marks the beginning of the new year in the Hindu calendar. During Diwali, the Hindus honor the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. It is believed that the goddess wanders Earth and looks for homes that she will be welcomed into. As a result, people lights lamps and open their doors and windows to invite her into their homes. People make small earthen lamps filled with oil to lights up their homes and invite in Lakshmi. Also with the lamps, people light up temples and put the lamps to adrift in rivers. They do this in memory of the return of Rama, who is one of the incarnations of Vishnu, to Ayodhya, and his delayed ceremony of being crowned king after fourteen years in exile. Not only do people light lamps during Diwali, but people also play a variety of gambling games. The gambling games symbolize the games of dice played by the god Siva and his wife Paravati. The Hindus do all this during Diwali, but it is mainly a time for visiting family and friends. Together, they do these activities along with decorating homes, wearing new clothes, feasting, and exchanging gifts. Diwali is a very major and important festival to the Hindus overall.

The Hindus Five Days of Diwali

Day One: On day one, the Hindus bathe and offer a lighted deeya with Prasad to Yama Raj, who is the lord of death. They do this to pray for protection from untimely death. The Hindus make this offering near a Tulsi tree, Holy Basil tree, or any sacred tree that may be in their yard.

Day Two: On the second day of Diwali, the Hindus are supposed to take it easy and just bathe and rest for the day. They do not light Yama Deeya, and massage their body with oil instead. They do this to relieve tiredness and stress.

Day Three: On the third day, Hindus bathe and then join with their families and their Pandit (priest). Everyone gathers together to worship the goddess Lakshmi and to achieve the blessings of wealth and prosperity, light over darkness, and the triumph of good over evil.

Day Four: On the fourth day of Diwali, the Hindus worship Gorardhan by performing Govardhan. They do this because thousands of years ago, Lord Krishna ordered the people of Vraja to perform Govardhan Pooja. Since then, Hindus perform it in honor of the first Pooja done by the people of Vraja.

Day Five: Day five of Diwali marks the end of the five day celebration. Brothers usually go to visit their sisters for welfare, while sisters pray for their brothers safety , success, and well being.

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This is a picture of Attorney General Charles and Pandit Ravi of the Indian Arrival Company lighting the national deeya at the Promenade Gardens on Diwali in 2010.

Did You Know..?

  • Did you know that Diwali is celebrated in over eleven countries?
  • Did you know that Diwali is the largest and most famous holiday celebrated in India?
  • Did you know that Diwali marks the end of harvest season and the onset of winter for the farmers? And that it marks the beginning of the new financial year for businesses?


Diwali. Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India.


National Geographic Kids. Reenita Malhotra Hora. 1996-2013


"Diwali." Compton's by Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2013. Web. 30 Apr. 2013.