Why Do People Celebrate Diwali?

Every year, millions of people around the world come together to celebrate Diwali.

Depending on where you live, you might have never come across the celebration of Diwali first hand. In the UK, the most prominent public celebrations take place in London and Leicester. But what is this festival all about? Why is it so important to those who celebrate it?

We’ve put together this quick guide to help you better understand this wonderful, and colourful, festival.

Who celebrates Diwali?

The festival is celebrated by Sikhs, Hindus, Jains and Newar Buddhists.

What is it all about?

Diwali comes from the Sanskrit word Deepavali, meaning ‘row of lights’, and the reasons for the celebration varies between faiths.

For Sikhs, it marks the release from prison of Guru Hargobind, along with 52 other princes, in 1619. As for Hinduism, the festival signifies the victory of light (good) over darkness (evil), hence the emphasis on ‘the festival of lights’. For Jains, it marks the spiritual awakening of Bhagwan Mahavira, who was the twenty-fourth Tirthankara of Jainism.

Those celebrating Diwali also use this as a way to honour Laksmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. Many households in India will leave their windows and doors open to allow her to enter their homes. Some will say prayers to her in hope for prosperity in the year to come.

 When is it?

Diwali falls between the October and November, with the exact date changing each year as dictated by the Hindu lunar calendar. This year, 2017, Diwali falls on October 19th.

What happens during the festival?

The celebration lasts for five days, with the actual ‘Festival of Lights’ taking place on the third day. Many households and shops are decorated with traditional candles and colourful lights as part of the celebration. All over world people will be attending Diwali light switch-on events. Food, music, celebrations and firework displays are all key elements that makeup Diwali. The festival also focuses on charity, with many families share sweets and gifts as well as donating food and money to those in need.

We hope you found this quick guide useful. Be sure to add your stories or photos in the comments below!

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