Diwali, also referred to as the Hindu festival of lights, is an annual festival that lasts five days and is celebrated between mid-October and mid-November, during the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika. It is dedicated to the goddess of prosperity, Lakshmi. Diwali is about good defeating evil, such as light versus darkness, warmth against cold, truth versus lies and purity versus uncleanness.
When is Diwali?
Because Diwali is linked to the lunar cycle, the exact dates differ each year. In 2020, the third day of Diwali, which is the most significant of the celebration, falls on November 14, which is always the darkest night of the lunar month. Therefore, the five days of Diwali are between November 12 and 16 in 2020.
In the days leading up to Diwali, celebrants will clean their homes, because it is believed that Lakshmi likes cleanliness and will visit the cleanest house first. Then people will decorate them with diyas; oil lamps made from clay. It is also common to make these on the (third) day of Diwali. Another tradition for Hindus is to refrain from eating meat and drinking alcohol one week in advance of Diwali.
At Diwali, people will dress up in their finest clothes, and hold a ceremony for Lakshmi before it gets dark. Usually, the most senior member of the family will lead the prayers. Then the diyas will be placed around a gold or bronze plate and then lit to invite the goddess Lakshmi to visit the house and bless its residents.
After they are lit, the diyas will be placed in and around the house, so that every room has a diya the goddess can visit.
After the placing of the diyas, people will go outside to light fireworks. Then it is time for dinner. Traditionally, this dinner is vegetarian with traditional sweets.