Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is an Indian Festival of Lights celebrated for five days during the Hindu month of Kartika, which usually falls between October and November of the Gregorian calendar. The festival is observed in the United States by people who practice Hinduism, but Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs also have their Diwali traditions, and it commemorates the victory of light over darkness.
Diwali is not a public holiday in the United States, so schools and businesses remain open.
Diwali is the most popular Hindu holiday among the Indian communities in the United States. It is celebrated in honor of the seventh incarnation of the god Vishnu - Rama-chandra. according to the Ramayana, Lord Rama and his wife Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman, returned to his people after 14-years of exile, and after defeating and killing the demon king Ravana. Because of the diverse number of deities and traditions across India, some regions might celebrate other Gods during Diwali, such as the goddess of happiness, wealth, and prosperity, Lakshmi. Other faiths commemorate different historical events.
In any case, for all faiths, Diwali represents the triumph of good over evil.
Diwali lasts for five days, with the most important celebration taking place on the third day of the festival, which marks the darkest night of the lunar month. Preparations for Diwali usually begin after Dusshera, which happens 20 days before Diwali.
Diwali Customs and Traditions
- During Diwali, Hindus will decorate their houses and temples with candles and lanterns to illuminate their exterior and interior. They will also dress in their newest, finest clothes.
- A festival of merriment and happiness, there are also fireworks and family feasts where people share sweets and gifts.
- Diwali is a spiritual festival, so people offer worship (or puja) to the goddess Lakshmi, participate in prayers and give offerings to the gods.
- Outside of India, the world's largest celebration of Diwali takes place in the United States, in Times Square in New York.
How to Celebrate Diwali
In the United States, Hindu communities will hold Diwali celebrations with schools, Hindu, and Indian organizations. Commemorations involve feasts, dancing, and colorful decorations.