Celebrate Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights.

In late October or early November, more than a billion Hindus worldwide celebrate Diwali (pronounced dish-vaa-lee), one of the most extensively recognized Hindu festivals. Diwali, like Christmas and Hanukkah, has some customs and traditions (lights, gifts, overeating!), but it is a Hindu festival that has been celebrated for a long time. In addition, Sikhs and Jains observe the holiday as well. In India, Muslims and other non-Hindus can participate in the celebration of Diwali, just as non-Christians in the United States are allowed to do so.

Diwali’s earliest known incarnations

The Sanskrit phrase Deepavali, which translates to “row of lit lights,” is the root of the name Diwali, making it the Hindu “Festival of Lights.” These legendary legends highlight the triumph of good over evil and knowledge over negative traits such as greed, lust, and fear during Diwali.

It’s always the stepmother who gets banished from the kingdom, and this time it’s Rama, a revered prince who was deported with his wife Sita by a jealous stepmother. Rama fought a demon king who stole Sita during his 14-year exile. People lit rows of earthen oil lamps to mark the couple’s successful return to their realm.

Nakamura, the son of Mother Earth, is the subject of a second tale that is more popular in southern India. To terminate the invasions of the demon Narkasura, Lord Krishna descends from the skies and restores peace and tranquility to Earth.

Diwali is a time to welcome the goddess Lakshmi into the home and commemorate these historical triumphs. The festival of Diwali is centered around the veneration of Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, abundance, and good fortune.

Diwali is based on the Western lunar calendar, and the date varies from year to year. The first day of Kartik, the first month of the Hindu lunar calendar, is a public holiday in India. The first new moon of the lunar new year falls on this night, which is ordinarily gloomy but is illuminated by the celebration of Diwali around the world.

A Month of Non-Stop Action, Delicious Food, and Close Relationships

While the festival of Diwali lasts for five days, with the third day as its high point, the buildup to it can last for up to a month. The month-long countdown to Christmas is much like this.

The Hindu American Foundation’s executive director, Suhag Shukla, grew up in the United States and recalled the euphoria and anxiety that accompany the Diwali season.

According to Shukla, the pre-Diwali ritual of scrubbing the house from top to bottom to welcome Lakshmi was not something he enjoyed as a kid, and that’s why he calls it “a frenzy.” As much as she liked all of the Diwali treats her family made for her, she couldn’t understand why the cooking had to begin weeks in advance.

It’s hard for Shukla to forget the pride her parents felt in preserving Gujarat’s culinary and cultural traditions or the warm sensations that surrounded them when Diwali came around.

We were hosting open homes for friends and family to come and dine, and they were doing the same for us, recalls Shukla. “It was all worth it,” he says. “Just knowing that our doors would be open.”

A ‘Hindu Hanukkah’ Is Not What It Appears to Be

Comparing Hanukkah, which falls around Christmas, is tempting because Diwali is known as the “Festival of Lights” in India. Even Shukla, a devout Hindu, concedes that the holiday of Hanukkah might be a good jumping-off point for a discussion of Diwali.

According to Shukla, “at a very fundamental level, all of these festivals are honoring these positive notions of justice or virtue.”

However, the Diwali custom of burning lamps differs from the eight-night Jewish tradition of lighting a menorah. Diwali is a festival of lights, and while ancient oil lamps known as diyas are illuminated throughout the celebration, they are more of a decoration than a religious ceremony. Strings of multicolored holiday lights, sparklers, and firecrackers are also popular during Diwali.