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Diwali (English pronunciation: /dɪwɑːli/) also
called Divali, Deepavali or the "festival of lights", is a
five-day Hindu festival which starts on Dhanteras,
celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksha
(waning moon fortnight) of the Hindu calendar month Ashvin
and ends on Bhau-beej, celebrated on the second lunar day of
Shukla Paksha (waxing moon fortnight) of the month Kartik.
Dhanteras usually falls eighteen days after Dussehra. In the
Gregorian calendar, Diwali falls between mid-October and
Diwali is an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka,
Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname,
Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji.
For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of
the year and is celebrated in families by performing
traditional activities together in their homes. For Jains,
Diwali marks the attainment of moksha or nirvana by Mahavira
in 527 BC. For Sikhs, Diwali is particularly important
because it celebrates the release from prison of the sixth
guru, Guru Hargobind, and 52 other princes with him, in
1619. Arya Samajists, celebrate this day as Death
Anniversary of Swami Dayanand Saraswati. They also celebrate
this day as Shardiya Nav-Shasyeshti.
The name "Diwali" or "Divali" is a contraction of deepavali
which translates into "row of lamps". Diwali involves the
lighting of small clay lamps filled with oil to signify the
triumph of good over evil. These lamps are kept on during
the night and one's house is cleaned, both done in order to
make the goddess Lakshmi feel welcome. Firecrackers are
burst because it is believed that it drives away evil
spirits. During Diwali, all the celebrants wear new clothes
and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends.
The festival starts with Dhanteras on which most Indian
business communities begin their financial year. The second
day of the festival is called the Naraka Chaturdasi.
Amavasya, the third day of Diwali, marks the worship of
Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. The fourth day of Diwali is
known as Kartika Shudda Padyami. The fifth day is referred
to as Yama Dvitiya, and on this day sisters invite their
brothers to their homes.