One of our favorite festivals during our time in India was Diwali, known in Sanskrit as Deepavali. It gets its name from the row (avali) of clay lamps (or deepa) that are lit outside of people’s homes. Basically, Diwali celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil and the beginning of a new year. It is celebrated for 3 to 5 days every year between mid October and mid November, based on the Hindu lunar calendar.
Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is one of India’s most popular and important festivals. To an outsider, it looks similar to Christmas and New Year combined. Houses are cleaned, presents are purchased, fairy lights are hung up and fireworks are set off. This is also the time of year (in India) when staff receive yearly bonuses, families buy new clothes and businesses start a new fiscal year.
Even though people from all religions participate to some extent, it is primarily a Hindu holiday which remains as important to Hindus as Christmas is to Christians.