Diwali or Dipavali is a significant 5-day festival in Hinduism, Sikhism, and Jainism occurring between mid October and mid November. It is also popularly known as the Festival of Lights. Diwali is an official holiday in India, Guyana, Malaysia, Nepal and Singapore.
The word Dipavali literally translates as a row of lamps in Sanskrit. It is traditional for adherents of Diwali-celebrating faiths to light small clay lamps (or Deep in Sanskrit) filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil within an individual. During Diwali, many wear new clothes and share sweets/snacks with each other. Some Indian business communities start their financial year by opening new account books on the first day of Diwali for good luck the following year.
In Hinduism, Diwali marks the return of Lord Raama to his kingdom Ayodhya after defeating Ravana (the demon king) - the ruler of Lanka in the epic story of Ramayana. It also celebrates the slaying of the demon king Narakasura by Lord Krishna. Both signify the victory of good over evil. In Jainism, Diwali marks the attainment of moksa by Mahavira in 527 BC. In Sikhism, Diwali commemorates the return of Guru Har Gobind Ji to Amritsar after freeing 52 other Hindu kings imprisoned in Fort Gwalior by Emperor Jahangir. He was welcomed by the people who lit candles and divas to celebrate his return, which is why Sikhs also refer to Diwali also as Bandi Chhorh Divas meaning "the day of release of detainees".
Diwali is considered to be a national festival in India and Nepal. The aesthetic aspect of the festival is enjoyed around the world regardless of faith.
Probably one of the most famous Indian Holidays in the world, Diwali, the "festival of lights", comparable to Christmas in significance! On this glorious day lit up with candles and such, everyone is showered with various sweets! Also, in Southern India, specialty dishes are made for the holiday season, including vadai and payasam.