It’s a joyous time for people to gather with their families to decorate their homes and celebrate the victory of good over evil.
But what and when is Diwali and how is it celebrated?
When is Diwali?
Diwali commences on the darkest night on the Hindu lunar calendar, during the month Kartika, which falls in between mid October - November in the Gregorian calendar. This festival also marks the last harvest before winter.
It is a five -day event starting on Saturday 22 October 2022, with Dhanteras, but the main day is on Monday 24 October.
The five day festival of lights begin from late October and are labelled as:
- 22 October 2022: Dhanteras
- 23 October 2022: Naraka Chaturdashi, also known as Choti Diwali
- 24 October 2022: Diwali
- 25 October 2022: Govardhan Puja, also known as Gudi Padwa
- 26 October 2022: Bhai Dooj
What is Diwali?
Diwali originates from the Sanskrit word ‘deepavali’, meaning ‘rows of lights’, reinforcing the spiritual aspect of this festival by lighting oil lamps, called diyas.
It is known as the festival of lights and symbolises a spiritual triumph of good over evil, and light over darkness.
Although the festival is five days long, Diwali actually falls on the third day, which is 24 October.
This also coincides with the darkest day of the lunar month.
As this festival is so widely celebrated by billions of people around the world, it has no single origin story, but a running theme sees deities winning a battle against evil.
What is the story and why do we celebrate Diwali?
In Hinduism, Diwali is widely associated with Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity who is said to bring good fortune.
Other Hindus believe in the epic of Ramayana, where on the day of Diwali, deities Rama, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman reached Ayodhya, a holy city in India, after 14 years in exile.
In Sikhism, Diwali celebrates the date of the release of the sixth Guru Hargobind Singh from prison in 1619.
Jains celebrate this date to commemorate when their founder, Lord Mahavira, reached a state of eternal bliss, which they call Moksha.
Although Diwali is not celebrated by a majority of Buddhists, Newar Buddhists use this day to also offer prayers to the Goddess Lakshmi.
How is Diwali celebrated?
Diwali is prepared for in advance, with many people cleaning and decorating their houses in the lead-up to the festival.
Diwali is celebrated with joy, an abundance of sweets, and for some, fireworks with string lights dangling from their houses. Many towns celebrate together with neighbours throwing huge parties and celebrations.
Traditional celebrations include lighting diyas throughout workplaces and homes, as these oil lights act as a guidance for Goddess Lakshmi to find her way home. Some devotees leave their doors and windows open to invite Lakshmi to visit their homes.
The lights also act as a spiritual reminder that inner light can protect households from spiritual darkness.
Each day of Diwali holds its own significance, with the first day seeing people pray to Lakshmi, bake sweets and clean their homes to adorn in lights and flowers.
On the third day, people go to Temples to pray and honour Lakshmi, later gathering with their loved ones for celebrations and to light the lamps created on the first day.
For many people, the fourth day is a new year, where it becomes a chance to honour their siblings and exchange gifts and wishes.
How to wish someone a happy Diwali
Some Hindus, Sikhs and Jains will send Diwali greeting cards during the festive season, and may include a gift of Indian sweets to mark the occasion.
Saying “happy Diwali” is a simple and easy way to let someone know you’re thinking of them, and something you can say to anyone who is celebrating Diwali.
You can also say “Diwali ki Shubhkamnaye” (pronounced: Dee-vaa-lee kee Shub-kaam-nigh) or “Shubh Deepavali” (pronounced: Shub deepaavalee) to wish someone a happy Diwali in Hindi.
In Marathi, happy Diwali is “Shubh Diwali” (pronounced: Shub Dee-vaa-lee)
In Punjabi the message is “Tuhanu Diwali diyan bohat both vadhaiyan”, and Tamil it is “Deepavali Nalvazhthukkal”.
However, a simple “happy Diwali” is always appreciated.