Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is one of the most significant festivals celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and some Buddhists. It holds great cultural and religious significance in various parts of the world. Diwali is a multi-day festival that usually falls between October and November, depending on the lunar calendar. 

This year, Diwali will be celebrated on Sunday, November 12th. 

The festival of Diwali symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. It commemorates the return of Lord Rama, along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshamana, from their 14-year exile and their victory over the demon king Ravana. The lighting of lamps and fireworks during Diwali represents the triumph of light and the dispelling of darkness. 

Here are some important traditions and customs associated with Diwali:

1. Lighting of Diyas and Decorations: Diwali is often referred to as the "Festival of Lights" because it involves the lighting of numerous oil lamps called diyas. These lamps are placed in and around homes, temples, and public spaces to illuminate the surroundings and create a festive atmosphere. Additionally, colorful rangoli patterns made with colored powders or flower petals are created at the entrances of homes to welcome prosperity and good fortune.

2. Family Gatherings and Celebrations: Diwali is a time for families to come together and celebrate. People clean and decorate their homes, wear new clothes, and exchange gifts with loved ones. Family members gather for prayers and religious rituals, seeking blessings for a prosperous year ahead. It is also common to visit relatives and friends, sharing sweets and festive meals. 

3. Puja and Worship: Diwali is a time for religious observances and prayers. Many households perform puja (worship) to deities such as Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, and Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Devotees offer flowers, incense, and sweets to the deities, seeking their blessings for abundance and well-being.

4. Fireworks and Crackers: Fireworks and firecrackers are an integral part of Diwali celebrations. The loud sounds and bright lights are believed to drive away evil spirits and bring joy and happiness. 

5. Charity and Giving: Diwali emphasizes the importance of giving and sharing. Many people engage in acts of charity and donate to the less fortunate during this time. It is believed that such acts bring blessings and help spread happiness and prosperity in the community.

Five Fun Facts

1. Diwali takes place annually and lasts for five days, marking the start of the Hindu New Year. The exact dates change each year and are determined by the position of the moon. 

2. The word "Diwali" (or Deepavali as it's sometimes called) means "row of lights" in an ancient language of India, called Sanskrit. During this festival, people decorate their homes with lights and oil lamps, called diyas. 

3. Rangoli is a popular Diwali tradition- beautiful patterns made using colorful powders and flowers. People draw rangoli on the floor by the entrance of their homes to welcome the gods and bring good luck.

4. The city of Leicester, in the United Kingdom, holds the largest Diwali celebrations outside of India.

5. Diwali has been celebrated for over 2,500 years. 


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