Diwali or Deepavali known as festival of lights is the Hindu festival of lights celebrated every year in autumn in the northern hemisphere. One of the most significant festivals in Indian culture, sees millions attend firework displays, prayers and celebratory events across the world every autumn. It is an official holiday in Fiji, Guyana, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. It spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. The word “diwali” means “row of lights,” and celebrants decorate the indoors and outdoors with beautiful rows of flickering lamps, lanterns and electric lights. Families also light up the night with bonfires and create beautiful flower displays. Diwali is viewed as a time for socializing and is celebrated in October or November by multiple religious denominations, including Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism. This nationwide harvest festival is meant to welcome the goddess Lakshmi and secure her blessings for the new year.
To celebrate, houses are decorated with candles and colourful lights and huge firework displays are held while families feast and share gifts.
Diwali dates back to ancient times in India, as a festival after the summer harvest in the Hindu calendar month of Kartika. The festival is mentioned in Sanskrit texts such as the Padma Purana, the Skanda Purana both completed in second half of 1st millennium AD but believed to have been expanded from a core text from an earlier era. The diyas (lamps) are mentioned in Skanda Purana to symbolically represent parts of sun, the cosmic giver of light and energy to all life, who seasonally transitions in the Hindu calendar month of Kartik.
Hindus in some regions of India associate Diwali with the legend of Yama and Nachiketa on Kartika amavasya (Diwali night). The Nachiketa story about right versus wrong, true wealth versus transient wealth, knowledge versus ignorance is recorded in Katha Upanishad composed in 1st millennium BC.
King Harsha in the 7th century Sanskrit play Nagananda mentions Deepavali as Deepapratipadutsava, where lamps were lit and newly engaged brides and grooms were given gifts. Rajasekhara referred to Deepavali as Dipamalika in his 9th century Kavyamimamsa, where in he mentions the tradition of homes being whitewashed and oil lamps decorating homes, streets and markets in the night. The Persian traveller and historian Al Biruni, in his 11th century memoir on India, wrote Deepavali being celebrated by Hindus on New Moon day of the month of Kartika