much year round October and November the sky across the UK can be seen filled with fireworks as the festivities take place.
Diwali is a five-day “Festival of Lights” and a celebration of the triumph of good over evil, and it begins this week.
Here is an explanation of why it is celebrated and what takes place:
– When is it celebrated?
The festival usually takes place between October and November, with the date changing every year.
This year it takes place between the 2.-6. November, with the festival’s most important day falling on 4 November.
– Who celebrates it and why?
Diwali, native to India, is celebrated all over the world by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, but for different reasons.
Hindus celebrate Lord Rama’s return – an avatar of the Hindu supreme god Lord Vishnu – with his wife and brother to the kingdom of Ayodhya after a 14-year exile.
The streets and towns were lit with Diwas (candles) to welcome them home.
In South India, Diwali is the day when the demon Narakasura was defeated by Sri Krishna and Satyabhama.
To others, Diwali is dedicated to the goddess Lakshmi, who is believed to bring wealth and prosperity.
In many households, the celebrations include a puja (worship) of the goddess to pray for health and happiness.
Sikhs, meanwhile, are celebrating the release from prison of the sixth guru Hargobind Singh in 1619.
The Jains celebrate Diwali as Lord Mahavira, the last Jain Tirthankaras, achieved Nirvana.
According to the British Sikh Association, Diwali celebrations in British cities have probably become the largest outside India.
A spokesman told the PA news agency: “Diwali is being celebrated in the Prime Minister’s residence 10 Downing Street, in the House of Commons, where cross-party parliamentarians are taking part in the celebration as we are today.
“Diwali in Trafalgar Square is watched by thousands of people, including tourists visiting the capital, who are fascinated by the colorful celebration of music, dance and food.”
According to the Hindu Council UK, Diwali is “probably best experienced in India”, although the festivities are seen across the globe.
A spokesman for the organization said: “In London in particular, Diwali has become a mega-event to celebrate India’s culture and traditions. From live music to dance shows and more. London really goes for it.
“It is a family-friendly event with lots of activities, including music and dance performances, workshops and some children’s activities. And there is a huge selection of Indian food to try from all the food stalls and a massive fireworks display to end the festival.
“In India, houses are cleaned, often renovated and always lit with sparkling fairy lights and oil lamps. Most doorways and foyers are decorated with beautiful designs on the floor, called rangolis.
“Kids are waiting in the candy stores to buy candy, excited young people are lighting up the sky with their repertoire of carefully crafted fireworks and shouting ‘Happy Diwali’ to the unsuspecting passers-by.”
Gifts of clothes and sweets are also exchanged between people, with markets and stalls selling goods months before the festival takes place.