Diwali (Festival of Lights) is an Indian festival celebrated during the Hindu Lunisolar month (usually between mid-October and mid-November). It's known as a Hindu festival but also celebrated by Sikhs and Jains.
During this festival many people decorate their homes and businesses with lights and oil lamps called 'diyas'. The lights are said to help Lakshmi find her way into people's homes, bringing with her an abundance of wealth and prosperity for the new year ahead!
The festival itself lasts for five days and marks the start of the Hindu New Year. Lights and worshipping Deity's are not the only way of celebrating this wonderful festival, it's also a time to celebrate and enjoy time with family and friends. People light fireworks, exchange gifts, sweets and eat eat eat!
Each day of the festival has a different name and meaning.
Day 1: Dhanteras, Dhanatrayodashi - people kick off the festival with a bit of a spring clean! Cleaning homes and lighting diyas and lamps to make way for the new year and to welcome the Goddess Lakshmi.
Day 2: Naraka Chaturdashi, Chhoti Diwali - according to Hindu religion, the demon Narakasura was killed by Lord Krishna on the second day. Some make it a custom to clean clothes/buy new clothes on this day to mark the 'ridding' of anything bad!
Day 3: Lakshmi Pujan, Kali Puja - in most parts of India the third day is the most important day of the festival. In the evening the sky is alight with fireworks from people celebrating.
Day 4: Annakut, Balipratipada (Padwa), Govardhan Puja - the fourth day is the first day of the new year. Many prepare food and visit temples to celebrate the beginning of the new year and give thanks to Lord Krishna.
Day 5: Bhai Duj, Bhau-Beej, VIshwakarma Puja - this is the last day of the festival and is commonly known as the brother sister day. A day to celebrate the bond between brother and sister.
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