The twinkling lights flutter as the warm air carries the spiced aroma of sweet treats and the bang of firecrackers startles you into an explosion of laughter. Join family and friends for the joyous celebrations of Diwali. It is the ancient festival of lights, which can be traced back to ancient India, but the traditions and celebrations have spread further afield to many other countries and are now celebrated worldwide. Diwali is not only celebrated by Hindus but also Jains and Sikhs, but for all religions it is seen as the marker of the victory of good over evil. This is good represented in all its forms, so the celebration is of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. For many Hindus, Diwali honours the return from exile of the Lord Rama, his wife, Sita, and brother, Lakshmana, as it is told in the Ramayana. To others it marks the return of Pandava, and some believe it to be linked to the celebration of Lakshmi, who is the goddess of wealth and prosperity.
The festival and its preparations usually take place over five days with the main festival held on the new moon night of the Lunisolar month, this is usually between October and November, and in 2015 it falls on the 11th of November. The first day of the celebrations begins on the day of Lakshmi’s birth, which signifies the war between good and evil. The fifth and final night, also known as Diwali night, is the day Lakshmi married Vishnu. The preparation for Diwali night takes quite some time and involves cleaning and decorating the home. The floors are decorated with rangoli, which are patterns on the floor of houses, usually near the doorways; and there are lanterns and lights everywhere. People buy gifts for friends and family, which will traditionally include sweets and seasonal goods as the festival marks the harvest period.
In Sri Lanka Diwali holds a prominent significance for the country’s Hindu community. Owing to the large number of Tamil inhabitants, there is a distinctive Tamil flavour to the Sri Lankan Deepavali celebrations and they are a truly joyous occasion. Traditional Indian food, firecrackers and lamps are lit to ward off the shadows from your life and home. It is an exceedingly popular festival that is eagerly awaited throughout the year. There are more celebrations in the north of Sri Lanka than the south but there are huge festivities across the nation as it is a widely celebrated festival. In fact, it is one of the most important festivals of the year for the Hindu population and is most heavily celebrated in Tamil areas. The Sri Lankan festival is celebrated to commemorate the Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana, and therefore, the victory of good over evil
Although Diwali is celebrated widely throughout India, Kerala do things a little differently as it is not a major festival in this region. Known here as Deepavali, the festival is celebrated mostly by Hindus and in places with prominent Tamil and Bengali residents. It is a much more sedate affair in this part of India, and Deepavali is actually celebrated on the day preceding the new moon rather than on the night of the new moon. In Kerala the festival is based on the legend of Narakasura Vadha, which tells of how good triumphed over evil.
Diwali is celebrated with great gusto in Mauritius, and this is where some of the best festival celebrations can be found in the world, particularly outside of India. During this time there are so many lights for celebration that the island is a beautiful land of flickering luminescence. As in Sri Lanka, the Mauritian festival of Diwali marks Rama’s defeat over Ravana, but here it is also a celebration of the destruction of the demon Narakasuran by Krishna.