Diwali, or Deepawali (in Hindi - दिवाली or दीपावली), is a major Indian festival, significant in Hinduism and Jainism. It is celebrated by Hindus and Jains across the globe, as the "Festival of Lights," where the lights or lamps signify the up-lighting of darkness and victory of good over the evil within. For Hindus, Diwali (Deepavali) is not only a festival of lights but also is a special occasion to worship Lord Vishnu, Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi. For Jains, it is an occasion to remember Lord Mahavira.
Deepavali (Diwali) is a festival where people from all age groups participate. They give expression to their happiness by lighting earthen 'diyas' (lamps), decorating the houses, bursting firecrackers and inviting near and dear ones to their households for partaking in a sumptuous feast.
The day also commemorated the homecoming of King Rama of Ayodhya, after a 14-year exile in the forest, and thus the people of Ayodhya (the capital of his kingdom) welcomed him back by lighting up rows of lamps (deepa-wali), thus its name, Deepawali, or simply shortened as Diwali.
The celebrations focus on lights and lamps, particularly traditional dīpa or deeya (earthen lamp), and fireworks. Though colloquially called Diwali in North India, in South India it is called Deepavali.
Diwali is celebrated in various parts of the world, in countries such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Suriname, Canada, Guyana, Mauritius, Fiji, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Australia, much of Africa, and the United States. In some countries it is celebrated mainly by Indian expatriates, in others it has become part of the general local culture. In Nepal, Diwali is known as "Tihar" and celebrated during the October/November period. In Malaysia, Diwali is known as "Hari Deepavali," and is celebrated during the seventh month of the Hindu solar calendar. In Singapore, the festival is called "Deepavali", and is a gazetted public holiday.
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