How Is Diwali Celebrated Around the World
Bright lights, bright colors, food, and fireworks. It might sound like the Fourth of July, but Diwali is something else entirely.
Diwali is India’s biggest holiday, transcending religions and cultures to celebrate the triumph of good over evil (as symbolized by lights in the darkness).
Diwali is a “Festival of Lights”
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Diwali, which is known around the world as the “Festival of Lights” falls in either October or November of each year—depending on when the 15th day of the lunar month of Kartik falls (which changes depending on the moon’s cycles). India isn’t the only country that celebrates a festival of lights.
Hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of deepa
A pottery maker in Bangalore prepares for Diwali by making clay lamps. By the time it’s the first day of the five-day celebration, Bangalore may have as many as 300,000 of these lit up (the current world record for the most lights in one city burning simultaneously is held by Ayodya, with 300,150). Learn the right—and wrong way—to burn candles.
Diwali is multi-culti
Diwali began in the Hindu religion, but it’s been adopted across Indian culture (much like Christmas has been adopted across American culture). It’s also celebrated in many countries, particularly Asia, although please don’t count out the United Kingdom, whose lavish celebrations of Diwali are among the world’s most colorful (as shown in this photo taken on Diwali in Trafalgar Square).
The Jain celebration involves Lord Mahavira
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Those who follow Jainism (as opposed to Hindus) focus their Diwali celebrations on the Lord Mahavira on Diwali. Mahavira, pictured here, is said to have created the defining rules of Jainism, and Diwali marks the anniversary of Mahavira attaining enlightenment.
The Sikh celebration focuses on prisoner release
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For those who follow Sikhism, Diwali is known as Bandi Chorh Divas, which means “Prisoner Release Day.” It celebrates the release from prison of the guru, Hargobind, along with 52 others in 1619. Here Sikh men strike a balance on six running horses as part of their celebration.
Northern India’s take on Diwali involves colorful lanterns
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In Northern India, the Hindu celebration of Diwali is associated specifically with the homecoming of the God, Rama, following his triumph over the evil King Ravana. In addition to small clay lamps, the festivities include colorful lanterns and other colorful decorations like the ones pictured here in a shop in Amritsar, Punjab, India.
Central to Southern India honors Lord Krishna
As you head south from Punjab, India’s celebrations of Diwali come to focus less on the Lord Rama, and more on Lord Krishna (a nature-loving supreme God). The Bhopal celebrants pictured here are performing a religious ritual called a “puja” to honor Krishna’s defeat over the evil Lord Indra (the God of Rain).
Let’s not forget about Lakshmi
Diwali is celebrated by many not just as a triumph of good over evil but also as a ritual to manifest prosperity. The Goddess Lakshmi is the Hindu deity associated with wealth and prosperity. During Diwali, the Lakshmi Puja, which takes place on the third day, is one of the most important celebrations, notes the Hindustani Times. In this photo, a girl worships beside an image of Lakshmi during Diwali 2018 in Peshawar, Pakistan.
Preparing to honor Lakshmi
To make the Lakshmi feel welcome in the home, people decorate their floors with bright, geometric patterns called “rangoli.” Rangoli are made with loose, brightly colored powder like the powders pictured here. The powders are made of foods like rice, spices, and flour and can also be made of flower petals.