Also known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali is India’s biggest and most important holiday of the year. During the festival, Indians wear their finest clothes, illuminate the interior and exterior of their homes with clay lamps and rangoli (colored powders or sand that are used to make beautiful, colorful designs on the floor or a tabletop), perform worship ceremonies, light fireworks, and partake in family feasts where sweets and gifts are shared. Diwali is celebrated not only by Hindus but also as a national festival enjoyed by many non-Hindu communities such as Jains, Sikhs, and some Buddhists. Many interpret the story of Diwali differently depending on where they live, but all stories share a common theme of good being victorious over evil.
Diwali is celebrated over five days, with each day having a different traditional activity.
- Day one, people clean their homes and shop for gold or kitchen utensils to help bring in good fortune.
- Day two, people decorate their homes with clay lamps and create design patterns called rangoli on the floor using colored powders or sand.
- Day three, (today and the main day of the festival) families gather for Lakshmi puja, a prayer to Goddess Lakshmi. Following this is a feast and firework festivities.
- Day four is the first day of the new year. Friends and relatives visit with gifts and best wishes for the season.
- Day five, brothers visit their married sisters who welcome them with love and a lavish meal.
National Geographic for Kids did a nice summary of Diwali here if you’d like to learn more.
To everyone who celebrates Diwali, we wish you and your family a happy, healthy, and prosperous Diwali.