Diwali is a traditional Hindu festival representing the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. The festival lasts for five days between mid-October and November with the third day of the festival falling on the darkest night of the lunar calendar – the night of the new moon.
The first two days of Diwali are spent cleaning and decorating. One tradition includes creating intricate – and sometimes colorful – designs on the floor. These are called rangoli and are made of rice, sand, flowers, and other items. Customarily, they are drawn by women and symbolize good luck.
Diwali is also known as the “festival of lights.” Its main celebration is on the third day and is called Lakshmi Puja. This festival day is a spectacular event. People place millions of diyas (small oil lamps made of clay) in their homes, hang strings of lights from rooftops, and set off brilliant fireworks displays. Families eat, exchange gifts, and offer prayers to Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, as it is believed she roams the Earth on this night.
Many countries around the world now hold events for Diwali. In doing so, the people of these nations have started to learn about the holiday – mirroring Diwali’s celebration of knowledge over ignorance.