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Also called Translation: Row of Lights; Deepavali, Festival of Lights
Observed by Religiously by Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains. Other Indians celebrate the cultural aspects.
Type Religious, India and Nepal
Significance Celebration of the victory of good over evil; the uplifting of spiritual darkness.
Date Decided by the lunar calendar
Celebrations Decorating homes with lights, Fireworks, distributing sweets and gifts.
Observances Prayers, Religious rituals (see puja)

Diwali or Dīpāvali (Sanskrit: दीपावली, Hindi: दिवाली,Urdu: دیوالی) is a significant five-day festival in Hinduism, Sikhism, and Jainism occurring between mid October and mid November. It is also popularly known as the Festival of Lights. Diwali is an official holiday in India, Guyana, Malaysia, Nepal and Singapore.

The word दीपावली (Dipavali) literally translates as a row of lamps in Sanskrit[1]. It is traditional for adherents of Diwali-celebrating faiths to light small clay lamps (or Deep in Sanskrit: दीप) filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil within an individual. During Diwali, many wear new clothes and share sweets/snacks with each other. Some Indian business communities start their financial year by opening new account books on the first day of Diwali for good luck the following year.

In Hinduism, Diwali marks the return of Lord Raama to his kingdom Ayodhya after defeating Ravana (the demon king) - the ruler of Lanka in the epic story of Ramayana. It also celebrates the slaying of the demon king Narakasura by Lord Krishna. Both signify the victory of good over evil. In Jainism, Diwali marks the attainment of moksa by Mahavira in 527 BCE.[2][3] . In Sikhism, Diwali commemorates the return of Guru Har Gobind Ji to Amritsar after freeing fifty-two other Hindu kings imprisoned in Fort Gwalior by Emperor Jahangir. He was welcomed by the people who lit candles and divas to celebrate his return, which is why Sikhs also refer to Diwali also as Bandi Chhorh Divas meaning "the day of release of detainees".

Diwali is considered to be a national festival in India and Nepal. The aesthetic aspect of the festival is enjoyed around the world regardless of faith.

When is Diwali celebrated?

Diwali is celebrated for five days according to the lunar Hindu Calendar. It begins in late Ashwin (September-October) and ends in early Kartika (October-November). The first day is Dhan Teras. The last day is Yama Dvitiya, the second day of the light half of Kartika. Each day marks one celebration of the six principal stories associated with the festival.[4].

Significance in Hinduism

While Diwali is popularly known as the "festival of lights", the most significant spiritual meaning is "the awareness of the inner light".

Central to Hindu philosophy is the assertion that there is something beyond the physical body and mind which is pure, infinite, and eternal, called the Atman. Just as we celebrate the birth of our physical being, Diwali is the celebration of this inner light, in particular the knowing of which outshines all darkness (removes all obstacles and dispels all ignorance), awakening the individual to one's true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality. With the realization of the Atman comes universal compassion, love, and the awareness of the oneness of all things (higher knowledge). This brings Ananda (inner joy or peace).

The gunas are the underlying forces or tendencies which one needs to have unaffected, direct relation with in order to find effectiveness and righteousness in life: they are lines of potential and illuminate thought and action, thus the inner meaning of Diwali being the festival of lights.

Diwali celebrates this through festive fireworks, lights, flowers, sharing of sweets, and worship. While the story behind Diwali varies from region to region, the essence is the same - to rejoice in the inner light (Atman) or the underlying reality of all things (Brahman).

Hindus have several significant events associated with it:

  • The Return of Sri Ram after 14 years of Vanvas (banishment). People at that time lit rows of lamps in his welcome.
  • The Killing of Narakasura: Celebrated as Narak Chaturdashi, one day before Diwali day, it commemorates the killing of Narakasura, an evil demon who created havoc, by Krishna's wife Satyabhama. This happened in the Dwapara Yuga during this time of Krishna's avatar. In another version, the demon was killed by Krishna ( Krishna provokes his wife Satyabhama to kill Narshna defeating Indra: Govardhan Puja is celebrated the day after Diwali. It is the day Krishna defeated Indra, the deity of thunder and rain. As per the story, Krishna saw huge preparations for the annual offering to Lord Indra and questions his father Nanda about it. He debated with the villagers about what their 'dharma' truly was. They were farmers, they should do their duty and concentrate on farming and protection of their cattle. He continued to say that all human beings should merely do their 'karma', to the best of their ability and not pray for natural phenomenon. The villagers were convinced by Krishna, and did not proceed with the special puja (prayer). Indra was then angered, and flooded the village. Krishna then lifted Mt Govardhan and held it up as protection to his people and cattle from the rain. Indra finally accepted defeat and recognized Krishna as supreme. This aspect of Krishna's life is mostly glossed ove but it set up the basis of the 'karma' philosophy later detailed in the Bhagavad Gita.

Diwali celebrations are spread over five days[5] in India and all over the world. All the days except Diwali are named according to their designation in the Hindu calendar.

  1. Vasu Baras (27 Ashvin or 12 Krishna Paksha Ashvin): Baras means twelfth day and vasu means cow. On this day cow and calf are worshipped.
  2. Dhanatrayodashi or Dhan teras (28 Ashvin or 13 Krishna Paksha Ashvin): Dhan means "wealth" and Trayodashi means "13th day". Thus, as the name implies, this day falls on the 13th day of the second half of the lunar month. It is an auspicious day for shopping of utensils and gold.This day is also regarded as the Jayanti of God Dhanvantri who came out during the churning of the great ocean by the gods and the demons.
  3. Naraka Chaturdashi (29 Ashvin or 14 Krishna Paksha Ashvin): Chaturdashi is the fourteenth day on which demon Narakasura was killed by god Krishna - an inacranation of god Vishnu. It signifies the victory of good over evil and light over darkness (Gujarati: Kali Chaudas, Rajasthan : Roop Chaudas). In south India, this is the actual day of festivities. Hindus wake up well before dawn, as early as two in the morning, have a fragrant oil bath and wear new clothes. They light small lamps all around the house and draw elaborate kolams /rangolis outside their homes. They perform a special puja with offerings to Krishna or Vishnu, as he liberated the world from the demon Narakasura on this day. It is believed that taking a bath before sunrise, when the stars are still visible in the sky is equivalent to taking a bath in the holy Ganges. After the puja, children burst firecrackers heralding the defeat of the demon. As this is a day of rejoicing, many will have very elaborate breakfasts and lunches and meet family and friends.
  4. Lakshmi Puja (30 Ashvin or 15 Krishna Paksha Ashvin): Lakshmi Puja marks the most important day of Diwali celebrations in North India. Hindu homes worship Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and Ganesha, the God of auspicious beginnings, and then light lamps all across the streets and homes to welcome prosperity and well-being.
  5. Bali Pratipada and Govardhan Puja (1 Kartika or 1 Shukla Paksha Kartika) : In North India, this day is celebrated as Govardhan Puja, also called Annakut, is celebrated as the day Krishna - an incaranation of god Vishnu - defeated god Indra and by the lifting of Govardhana hill to save his kinsmen and cattle from rain and floods. For Annakut, a mountain of food is decorated symbolizing Govardhan hill lifted by Krishna. In Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, it is celebrated as Bali-Pratipada or Bali Padyami. The day commemorates the victory of Vishnu in his dwarf form Vamana over demon-king Bali, who was pushed to the nether world and the return of Bali to earth from the nether-world. In Maharashtra, it is called as Padava or Nava Diwas ("new day"). Men present gifts to their wives on this day. It is celebrated as the first day of the Vikram Samvat calender, in Gujarat.
  6. Bhaiduj (also Bhayyaduj, Bhaubeej or Bhayitika) (2 Kartikaor 2 Shukla Paksha Kartika): on this day, brothers and sisters meet to express their love and affection for each other (Gujarati: Bhai Bij, Bengali: Bhai Phota). It is based on a story when Yam, lord of Death, visited his sister Yami. Yami welcomed yam with an Aarti and they had a feast together. Yam gave a gift to Yami while leaving as a token of his appreciation. So, the day is also called 'YAM DWITIYA'. Most Indian festivals bring together families, Bhaiduj brings together sisters and brothers, and is a significant festive day for them. This festival is ancient, and pre-dates 'Raksha Bandhan' another brother-sister festival celebrated in the present day.

Lakshmi Puja

Diwali marks the end of the harvest season in most of India and Nepal. Farmers are thankful for the plentiful bounty of the year gone by, and pray for a good harvest for the year to come. Traditionally this marked the closing of accounts for businesses dependent on the agrarian cycle, and the last major celebration before winter. Lakshmi symbolizes wealth and prosperity, and her blessings are invoked for a good year ahead.

There are two legends that associate the worship of Lakshmi on this day. According to the first legend, on this day, Lakshmi emerged from Kshira Sagar, the Ocean of Milk, during the great churning of the oceans, Samudra manthan. The second legend (more popular in western India) relates to the Vamana avatar of Vishnu, the incarnation he took to kill the demon king Bali. Thereafter it was on this day, that Vishnu came back to his abode, the Vaikuntha; so those who worship Lakshmi on this day, get the benefit of her benevolent mood, and are blessed with mental, physical and material well-being.[6]

As per spiritual references, on this day "Lakshmi-panchayatan" enters the Universe. Vishnu, Indra, Kubera, Gajendra and Lakshmi are elements of this "panchayatan" (a group of five). Add more The tasks of these elements are:

  • Lakshmi: Divine Energy (Shakti) which provides energy to all the above activities.
  • Vishnu: Happiness (happiness and satisfaction)
  • Kubera: Wealth (Generosity; one who gives away wealth)
  • Indra: Opulence (satisfaction due to wealth)
  • Gajendra: Carries the wealth

Significance in other religions

Diwali also has significance in other religions.


Diwali has a very special significance in Jainism, just like Buddha Purnima, the date of Buddha's Nirvana, is for Buddhists as Easter is for Christians. Lord Mahavira, the last of the Jain Tirthankaras, attained Nirvana or Moksha on this day at Pavapuri on October 15, 527 BCE, on Chaturdashi of Kartika, as Tilyapannatti of Yativrashaba from the sixth century states:

Mahavira is responsible for establishing the Dharma followed by Jains even today. According to tradition, the chief disciple of Mahavira, Ganadhara Gautam Swami also attained complete knowledge (Kevalgyana) on this day, thus making Diwali one of the most important Jain festivals.

Mahavira attained his nirvana at the dawn of the amavasya (new moon). According to the Kalpasutra by Acharya Bhadrabahu, 3rd century BCE, many gods were present there, illuminating the darkness[7]. The following night was pitch black without the light of the gods or the moon. To symbolically keep the light of their master's knowledge alive:

16 Gana-kings, 9 Malla and 9 Lichchhavi, of Kasi and Kosal, illuminated their doors. They said: "Since the light of knowledge is gone, we will make light of ordinary matter" ("गये से भवुज्जोये, दव्वुज्जोयं करिस्समो").

Dipavali was first mentioned in Jain books as the date of the nirvana of Mahavira. In fact, the oldest reference to Diwali is a related word, dipalikaya, which occurs in Harivamsha-Purana, written by Acharya Jinasena [8] and composed in the Shaka Samvat era in the year 705.

ततस्तुः लोकः प्रतिवर्षमादरत् प्रसिद्धदीपलिकयात्र भारते |
समुद्यतः पूजयितुं जिनेश्वरं जिनेन्द्र-निर्वाण विभूति-भक्तिभाक् |२० |
tatastuh lokah prativarsham-araat ako
prasiddha-deepalikaya-aatra bharate
samudyatah poojayitum jineshvaram
jinendra-nirvana vibhuti-bhaktibhak

Translation: The gods illuminated Pavanagari by lamps to mark the occasion. Since that time, the people of Bharat celebrate the famous festival of "Dipalika" to worship the Jinendra (i.e. Lord Mahavira) on the occasion of his nirvana.

Dipalikaya roughly translates as "light leaving the body". Dipalika, which can be roughly translated as "splenderous light of lamps", is used interchangeably with the word "Diwali".

The way Jains celebrate Diwali is different in many respects. There is a note of asceticism in whatever the Jains do, and the celebration of Diwali is not an exception. The Jains celebrate Diwali during the month of Kartik for three days. During this period, among the Shvetambaras, devoted Jains observe fasting and chant the Uttaradhyayan Sutra, which contain the final pravachans of Lord Mahavira, and meditate upon him. Some Jains visit Pavapuri in Bihar where he attained Nirvan. In may temples special laddus are offered particularly on this day.

Vira Nirvana Samvat: The Jain year starts with Pratipada following Diwali. Vira Nirvana Samvat 2534 starts with Diwali 2007. The Jain businesspeople traditionally started their accounting year from Diwali. The relationship between the Vir and Shaka era is given in Titthogali Painnaya and Dhavalaa by Acharya Virasena:
पंच य मासा पंच य वास छच्चेव होन्ति वाससया|
परिणिव्वुअस्स अरिहितो तो उप्पन्नो सगो राया||

Thus the Nirvana occurred 605 years and 5 months before the Saka era.

On 21 October 1974 the 2500th Nirvana Mahotsava was celebrated by all the Jain throughout India[3].


Bandi Chhorh Divas

For Sikhs, Diwali is particularly important because it celebrates the release from prison of the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, (hence also called "Bandi Chorr Devas" or "the day of release of detainees") and fifty-two other princes with him, from the Gwalior Fort in 1619.

The Mughal Emperor Jahangir had imprisoned Guru Har Gobind Ji and fifty-two other Hindu Rajas (Kings). Emperor Jahangir had imprisoned the sixth Guru because he was afraid of the Guru's growing, followings and power. The Emperor was asked to release Guru Hargobind which he agreed to do. However, Guru Hargobind asked that the Hindu Kings be released also. The Emperor agreed, but said only those who could hold onto his cloak tail would be allowed to leave the prison. This was in order to limit the number of prisoners who could leave.

However, Guru Hargobind had made a large cloak with fifty-two tassels and so each King was able to hold onto one tassel and leave prison.

Sikhs celebrated the return of Guru Hargobind Ji by lighting the Golden Temple and this tradition continues today.

Martyrdom of Bhai Mani Singh Ji

An important Sikh event associated with Diwali is the martyrdom of the elderly Sikh scholar and strategist Bhai Mani Singh in 1737. Bhai Mani Singh was the Granthi (keeper/reader of Sikh scripture) of Harmandir Sahib (popularly known as the Golden Temple). He transcribed the final version of Guru Granth Sahib dictated to him by Guru Gobind Singh in 1704.

Bhai Mani Singh assumed charge of Harmandir Sahib's management in 1708. In 1737, he received permission from Zakariya Khan, the then Mughal governor of Punjab, to hold a religious gathering of the Khalsa for celebrating Bandi Chhorh Diwas on the auspicious day of Diwali for a large tax of 5000 Rupees. He expected to put together the required sum from contribution made by the Sikhs who would assemble that day. But on discovered Zakariya Khan's plot to kill the Sikhs during the gathering, he sent out messages warning them not to turn up for the meeting. As a result the tax could not be paid and Zakariya Khan ordered Bhai Mani Singh's execution at Lahore.

Ever since the Bandi Chhorh Diwas celebrated during Diwali is also commemorated the martyrdom of Bhai Mani Singh. It is also believed that this event along with other Sikh martyrdoms gave further momentum to the Khalsa struggle for freedom and eventual success in establishing the Khalsa rule in the north of Delhi.

Uprising against the Mughal Empire

The festival of Diwali became the second most important day after the Baisakhi, when Khalsa was formally established by the Tenth Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.

The Sikh struggle against Mughal Empire's atrocities on non-Muslims, especially on Sikhs, which intensified in the 18th century, came to be centered around this day. After the execution of Banda Bahadur in 1716, who had led the agrarian uprising in Punjab, the Sikhs started the tradition of deciding matters concerning the community at the biennial meetings which took place at Amritsar on the first of Baisakh and at Diwali. These assemblies were known as the Sarbat Khalsa and a resolution passed by it became a gurmata (decree of the Guru).

Diwali in different regions of India

The celebrations vary in different regions:

In South India

  • In South India, the festival is called Deepavali instead of Diwali.
  • In Southern India, narakasura vratha is the main day, with celebration with firecrackers at dawn after lakshmi puja.
  • Deepavali is one of the seven most important festivals of Andhra Pradesh. Deepavali festival is very popular among the children for the joy of bursting fire crakers. Special areas to sell fire crackers are set up in all towns and cities including bigger villages. There are some pseudo-traditional customs followed such as buying new clothes for this festival. Buying new home or vehicles such as cars and trucks is considered auspicious. Special sweets are made too. Some eateries in Hyderabad make some delicious sweets during Deepavali which will not be available at any other time. Meat and alcohol are generally not consumed. Tradition has it that Andhraites gift sweets during Deepavali. Some areas host local stage story telling called Hari Katha. Some areas may put a huge Narakasura dummy made with fire crackers. This will be burst by a person wearing the dress of Lord Krishna or more accurately, a costume of Satyabhama, the consort of Lord Krishna who actually killed the demon Narakasura; an event that is celebrated as Deepavali for generations. The evening of Deepavali is a colourful sight to watch the evening sky.
  • The main festival in Karnataka is on the first day -Narakachaturdashi and third day- Balipadyami, with no celebration on the middle day of Amavasye. The festivities begin a day, during which water is stored (following the tradition, since running water was not available with ease, and it had to be carried from nearby ponds and lakes) for the next day's oil bath in the early hours of the morning. Then the entire house is cleaned and new clothes are purchased for the entire family (signifies becoming a new/better person by giving up darkness within us) which is followed by lighting of oil lamps around the house and bursting firecrackers.
  • The third day is celebrated as Bali Padyami as the day of Vamana's victory over 'Mahabali'. This festival is greatly celebrated in Karnataka.
  • In Tamil Nadu/Kerala it is celebrated as Deepavali. Celebrate this with lighting deepams, firecrackers, wearing new dresses and Sweets. It is a big festival in Tamil Nadu. They Take Oil bath early in the morning and pooja. After that Crackers and a traditional Visit to the Temple.

In Gujarat

In Maharashtra

In Maharashtra, Diwali starts from Vasubaras which is the twelfth day of the second half of the month of Ashwin. This day is celebrated by performing an Aarti of the cow and its calf- which is a symbol of love between mother and her baby.

The next day is Dhanatrayodashior Dhanteras. This day is of special importance for traders and business people.

The 14th day of Ashwin is Narakchaturdashi. On this day, people wake up before sunrise and bathe after rubbing scented oil on their body (they also bathe using Utna). After this the entire family visits a temple and offers prayers to their God. After this visit, everyone feasts on Faral which is a special Diwali preparation consisting of delectable sweets such as "karanji", "ladoo", "shankarpale", 'anarase' and "mithai" as well as some spicy eatables like "chakli", "shev" 'kadboli' and "chivda".

Then comes Lakshmi- poojan. It occurs on Amavasya i.e. no moon day. The dark night is illuminated by lamps and at dusk crackers are burst. New account books are opened after a pooja. The Bombay Stock Exchange performs a token bidding called Muhurta bidding. Generally the traders do not make any payments on that day (according to their belief Lakshmi should not be given away but must come home). In every household, cash, jewellery and an idol of the goddess Lakshmi is worshipped. Friends, neighbours and relatives are invited over and celebrations are in full swing. The broom used to clean one's house is also worshipped as a symbol of Lakshmi in some places .

Padwa' is the 1st day of the new month - Kartik in the Hindu calendar. It marks the start of Hindu financial year. Its a special day for Husband and wife. The wife puts tika on her husbands forehead and gets an expensive gift.

Bhaubeej - it is the time where in the bond of love between a brother and sister is further strengthened as the sister asks God for her brother/s long and successful life while she receives presents from her beloved brother/s.

Homes are cleaned and decorated before Diwali. Offices perform puja. Bonuses and holidays are granted to employees on these auspicious days. People buy property and gold on these days too. Children build replica forts in memory of the founder of Maratha Empire, Shivaji Maharaj. For children, Fireworks, new clothes and sweets make Dipavali the most eagerly awaited festival of the year.

In Bengal

Kali Puja is light-up night for Kolkata, corresponding to the festival of Diwali (pronounced Dipabali in Bengali), where people light candles in memory of the souls of departed ancestors. The goddess Kali is worshipped at night on one night during this festival. This is also a night of fireworks, with local youth burning sparklers and crackers throughout the night. Kolkata had to pass legislature a few years back to ban fireworks which break the 65 decibel sound limit, as ambient noise levels were going up to 90 decibels or more in parts of the city.

In Goa

Diwali begins in Goa on the day of Naraka Chaturdashi.The houses are cleaned and decorated with Kandil, lamps, mango leaves, and marigold flowers. The utensils are made to shine, filled with water, and decorated for the holy bath the following morning. On this day, paper-made effigies of Narakasura, filled with grass and crackers symbolising evil, are made.[9] These effigies are burnt at around four o'clock in the morning the following day/ Crackers are burst, and people return home to take a scented oil bath. Lamps are lit in a line.[10] The women of the house perform aarti of the men,gifts are exchanged,a bitter berry called as kareet is crushed under the feet in token of killing Narkasur, symbolising evil and removal of ignorance.[10] Different varieties of Poha and sweets are made and eaten with family and friends. Festivities continue til Tulsi vivah and lamps are lit every evening. Celebrations include Lakshmi puja on the Diwali day,Krishna puja or Govardhan puja and cattle worship on Balipratipada day, Bhaubeej, and Tulsi vivah.


To add to the festival of Diwali, fairs (or 'melas') are held throughout India.[11] Melas are to be found in many towns and villages. A mela generally becomes a market day in the countryside when farmers buy and sell produce. Girls and women dress attractively during the festival. They wear colourful clothing and new jewelry, and their hands are decorated with henna designs.

Among the many activities that take place at a mela are performances by jugglers, acrobats, snake charmers and fortune tellers. Food stalls are set up, selling sweet and spicy foods. There are a variety of rides at the fair, which include Ferris wheels and rides on animals such as elephants and camels. Activities for children, such as puppet shows, occur throughout the day.

In other parts of the world

Deepavali, Little India, Singapore, Oct 06

In Singapore, Deepavali is marked by 2 kilometres of lights across the Little India area.

Diwali is celebrated in various parts of the world, particularly those with a large population of Indian origin. These include countries such as Australia, Fiji, Guyana, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal[12], New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Thailand, the United Kingdom[12] and the United States. With more and more Indians and Tamils now migrating to various parts of the world, the number of countries where Diwali / Deepavali is celebrated has been gradually increasing. While in some countries it is celebrated mainly by Indian expatriates, in others it has become part of the general local culture. In most of these countries Diwali is celebrated on the same lines as described in this article with some minor variations. Some important variations are worth mentioning.

In Nepal, Diwali is known as "Tihar" or "Swanti". It is celebrated during the October/November period. Here the festival is celebrated for five days and the traditions vary from those followed in India. On the first day (Kaag tihar), crows are given offerings, considering them to be divine messengers. On the second day (Kukur tihar), dogs are worshipped for their honesty. On the third day, Laxmi puja and worship of cow is performed. This is the last day according to Nepal Sambat, so many of the businessmen clear their accounts on this day and on finishing it, worship goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. The fourth day is celebrated as new year. Cultural processions and other celebrations are observed in this day. The Newars celebrate it as "Mha Puja", a special ritual in which the body is worshipped to keep it fit and healthy for the year ahead on this day. On the fifth and final day called "Bhai Tika", brothers and sisters meet and exchange gifts.

In Nepal, family gathering is more significant during Diwali. People in the community play "Deusi and Bhailo" which is a kind of singing and dancing forming a group. People go to all the houses in the community and play songs and dance, and give blessing to the visited house, whereas the home owner gives some food like rice grains, Roti,fruits and money. After the festival, people donate some part of collected money and food to the charity or welfare groups and rest of the money and food, they go for picnic. People also play swing called Dore Ping made out of thick ropes and Pirke Ping or Rangate Ping made out of woods.

In Trinidad and Tobago, communities all over the islands get together and celebrate the festival. One major celebration that stands out is the Diwali Nagar, or Village of the Festival of Lights. It features stage performances by the east Indian cultural practitioners, a folk theatre featuring skits and plays, an exhibition on some aspect of Hinduism, displays by various Hindu religious sects and social organizations, nightly worship of Goddess Lakshmi, lighting of deeyas, performances by various schools related to Indian culture, and a food court with Indian and non-Indian vegetarian delicacies. The festival culminates with magnificent fireworks displays ushering in Diwali. Thousands of people participate in an atmosphere devoid of alcohol and in a true family environment.

In Malaysia, Diwali is known as "Hari Deepavali," and is celebrated during the seventh month of the Hindu solar calendar. It is a federal public holiday throughout Malaysia. In many respects it resembles the traditions followed in the Indian subcontinent. 'Open houses' are held where Hindu Malaysians (Malaysian Tamils) welcome fellow Malaysians of different races and religions to their house for a scrumptious meal. This is a practice unique to Malaysia and shows the goodwill and friendly ties practised by all Malaysians during any festive occasion.

In Singapore, the festival is called "Deepavali", and is a gazetted public holiday. Observed primarily by the minority Indian community (Tamils) , it is typically marked by a light-up in the Little India district. The Hindu Endowment Board of Singapore along with Singapores' government organizes many cultural events around Deepavali time.

In Sri Lanka, this festival is also called "Deepavali" and is celebrated by the Tamil community. On this day, it is traditional for people to wear new clothes and exchange gifts.

In Britain, Hindus and Sikhs celebrate Diwali with great enthusiasm and in most ways very similarly to those in India. People clean and decorate their homes with lamps and candles. A popular type of candle used to represent this holiday is a diya. People also give each other sweets such as laddoo and barfi, and the different communities may gather from around the country for a religious ceremony and get-together. It is also an important time to contact family in India and perhaps exchange gifts through the post. It is a greatly celebrated holiday and is a great way to connect with the culture and heritage of India. Diwali is becoming a well known festival in Britain and non-Indians also join in the festivities. Leicester plays hosts to some of the biggest celebrations outside of India itself. Diwali also coincides closely enough with the British Guy Fawkes (Bonfire Night) traditions on November the 5th that in many areas, such as the East End of London, a kind of joint festival has evolved where everyone celebrates and enjoys the same fire and fireworks for their own diverse reasons.

In New Zealand, Diwali is celebrated publicly among many of the South Asian diaspora cultural groups. There are main public festivals in Auckland and Wellington, with other events around the country becoming more popular and visible. An official reception has been held at the New Zealand Parliament since 2003.[13]

In Australia, Diwali is celebrated publicly among the people of Indian origin and the local Australians in Melbourne. On 21st of July 2002 an organisation “The Australian Indian Innovations Incorporated”(AIII) comprising of a conglomerate of independent organisations and individuals was formed to celebrate Indian Festivals In Melbourne. AIII facilitated opportunities to depict the cultural kaleidoscope of India and assist Indians in Melbourne to showcase Indian art, culture, style, traditions and food via various activities, seminars, festivals, fairs and events. The first Inaugural Diwali Festival-2002”, was held at Sandown Race Course on Sunday 13 October 2002. Since then until October 2008, about 140000 people visited this Australian Indian Cultural Extravaganza filled with culture, fun and cuisine. This 10 Hour Festival is depicting India through 50 Stalls, 10 Food stalls and an 8 hour cultural programme with Dj, Children's rides and spectacular fire works over the last 7 years.

In the United States, with increasing Indian population, Diwali is assuming significant importance year after year. Diwali was first celebrated in the White House in 2003 and was given official status by the United States Congress in 2007. Barack Obama became the first president to personally attend Diwali at the White House in 2009. Indians in the US celebrate Diwali in different parts of the US, just as in India. The Diwali Mela in Cowboys Stadium boasted an attendance of 100,000 people in 2009. In 2009, San Antonio became the first U.S. city to sponsor an official Diwali celebration including a fireworks display and 5000 people in attendance.


  1. Monier Monier-Williams. Sanskrit-English Dictionary. Entry for दीप. pp. 481. 
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This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Diwali. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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