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Diwali facts for kids

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Diwali / Deepavali
The Rangoli of Lights.jpg
Rangoli decorations, made using colored powder, are popular during Diwali
Also called Deepavali
Observed by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists
Type Indian, Cultural, Seasonal
Celebrations Diya and lighting, home decoration, shopping, fireworks, puja (prayers), gifts, performing religious rituals, feast, and sweets
Begins Dhanteras, 2 days before Diwali
Ends Bhai Dooj, 2 days after Diwali
Date Varies per Hindu Lunisolar calendar
2022 date October 24
2023 date November 12
2024 date November 1
2025 date October 20
Related to Kali Puja, Diwali (Jainism), Bandi Chhor Divas

Diwali (also: Deepawali) is one of India's biggest festivals. The word Deepawali means "rows of lighted lamps." It is a festival of lights, and Hindus celebrate it with joy. During this festival, people light up their houses and shops with Diyas (small cup-shaped oil lamps made of baked clay). They worship the Lord Ganesha for welfare and prosperity and Goddess Lakshmi for wealth and wisdom.

This festival is celebrated in the Hindu month of Kartika, which falls sometime during October or November. In many parts of India, Deepawali is celebrated for five days in a row. Hindus consider it a celebration of life and use the occasion to strengthen relationships. In some parts of India, it marks the beginning of a new year. People clean and decorate their houses before the festival. They create colorful rangoli artworks on floors.

Deepawali is celebrated and is a public holiday in countries such as Nepal, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius, Fiji, Suriname, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago. It is also a school holiday in many states of the United States with a large Hindu population. President George W. Bush had the first celebration of the holiday in the White House.

Description and rituals

Mata Mandir
Mandir (Temple) decorated with lights during Diwali
Diwali Festival
Lighting candles and clay lamps in their house and at temples during Diwali night

Diwali is a five-day festival in many regions of India, with Diwali night centering on the new moon, which is the darkest night of autumn. The festival takes place at the end of the Hindu lunar month of Ashvin and the start of the month of Kartika, which is usually the end of October or the first half of November on the Gregorian calendar. The night is beautifully lit with diyas, candles, and lanterns. Many sounds and sights, like fireworks and rangoli designs, make the night memorable. It is a celebration of flavors as well, with feasts and many mithai (candies, desserts). Diwali brings family and friends together each year, so it is also a festival of emotions.

Rituals and preparations for Diwali begin days or weeks in advance. The festival officially begins two days before the night of Diwali and ends two days after Diwali. Each day is a special celebration.

  • Day 1 - Dhanteras: This day marks the birthdays of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, and Dhanvantari, the god of health and healing. Dhanvantari is associated with Ayurveda, a form of natural therapy and different healing practices. People clean and decorate their homes and offices. Lights are arranged. They also use this day to buy gold and silver jewelry.
  • Day 2 - Naraka Chaturdasi: On this day, people celebrate goddess Kali and Lord Krishna's defeat of the demon Narakasura to free the world from fear. Special bathing rituals, such as a fragrant oil bath, are held in some regions, followed by small pujas. Women decorate their hands with henna designs. Families are also busy preparing homemade sweets for the main Diwali.
  • Day 3 - Lakshmi Puja: This is the main celebration day. People wear their new clothes or their best outfits as the evening approaches. Then diyas are lit and pujas are offered to Lakshmi. They ask for her blessing for a good year ahead. People open their doors and windows to let her in. After the puja, people go outside and celebrate by lighting up patakhe (fireworks). Next, they head back to a family feast, conversations, and mithai.
  • Day 4 - Padwa, Balipratipada: Padwa is celebrated differently in different parts of India. In Northern Indian states, people worship their instruments, arms (weapons), and equipment. This day celebrates the love and mutual devotion between the wife and husband. The husbands give thoughtful or elaborate gifts to their wives. In some parts of India, where the Hindu Vikram Samvat calendar is popular, this day also marks the beginning of the new year. Lord Krishna is also honored on this day.
  • Day 5 - Bhai Duj, Bhaiya Dooji: The last day of the festival is called Bhai dooj (Brother's second) or Bhai tika in Nepal, where it is the major day of the festival. It celebrates the sister-brother-loving relationship. The day emphasizes the love and lifelong bond between siblings.
Sweets Mithai in Shops for Diwali and other Festivals of India
Sweets mithai (dessert) are popular across India for Diwali celebration.

Festival of peace

On this festive occasion, Hindu, Jain, and Sikh communities also mark charitable causes, kindness, and peace. For example, at the international border, every year on Diwali, Indian forces approach Pakistani forces and offer traditional Indian candies on the occasion of Diwali. The Pakistani soldiers who anticipate the gesture return the goodwill with an assortment of Pakistani candies.

Interesting facts about Diwali

  • “Shubh Deepavali” is a popular greeting during Diwali. It means, “Have a successful Diwali.”
  • The fireworks on day 3 of Diwali celebrate Diwali legend Prince Rama’s (the Hindu god Vishnu in human form) return to his kingdom after being exiled for 14 years and defeating king Ravana.
  • The first Diwali festival was celebrated more than 2,500 years ago.
  • Paper or oil lanterns are lit during every Diwali not just to cast out the darkness but to honor the spirits of the dead who visit their relatives’ houses to wish them well.
  • India's city of Sivakasi provides around 90% of its famous fireworks.
  • More than 800 million people worldwide celebrate Diwali with various traditions and festivities.
  • The dyes that help give the rangoli its striking colors are usually made out of naturally dyed rice flour, turmeric, vermilion, and fresh flowers.
  • Fairs called melas are held during Diwali. These events include parades, dances, musical performances, henna artists, delicious food, and arts-and-crafts shows.

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