What is Diwali? Everything you need to know about the Festival of Lights

What is Diwali? Everything you need to know about the Festival of Lights

THE biggest day on the Hindu calendar is here, why is it called the Festival of Lights?

It’s the most celebrated day on the Hindu calendar; Diwali or the Festival of Lights starts today.

The day celebrates light triumphing over dark, or good over evil, and preparations are well underway among Melbourne’s Hindu community.

Preparations for this year’s Footscray Diwali Festival. From left to right, Rupa, Shubhangi, Suchitra, Sindhi, Palak, Vineela, Divya, Kirti and Kuki in Footscray Park. Picture: Hamish BlairSource:News Corp Australia

When is Diwali celebrated?

Coinciding with the Hindu New Year, Diwali is celebrated on the 15th day of the Hindu month Kartik, the holiest month on the Hindu lunar calendar.

Since it’s calculated by the position of the moon, the date of Diwali changes every year.

This year it’s celebrated on October 19.

Who celebrates it?

Celebrated globally by Indian and South Asian communities, Diwali also has significance for Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains.

Millions of people around the world celebrate with fireworks displays, prayers, festivals and sharing traditional sweets.

Many households will be decorated with earthenware oil lamps called diyas, and colourful rangoli artworks — patterns created by coloured rice or powder on the floor.

Dandenong Market’s annual Diwali family day will take place on October 22. Dancers from Bollydazzlers Jade Heaton, Ruvini Perera and Paaromita Chakraverty. Picture: Wayne TaylorSource:News Corp Australia

What does Diwali commemorate?

For Hindus, Diwali signals the return of Rama, the lord of virtue and a major Hindu deity, to his kingdom after being exiled for 14 years.

As the legend goes, a demon had kidnapped Rama’s wife, Sita. Rama travelled with another devoted deity Hanuman, who takes the form of a monkey, to rescue her.

When they returned home victorious, their kingdom was lit up with lamps to celebrate. The story is a Sanskrit epic known as “Ramayana”.

Indian athletes watch fireworks at the Madan Mohan Malviya stadium on the eve of the Hindu festival of Diwali in Allahabad. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

Those who follow Jainism, Diwali commemorates a respected ascetic called Mahavira who is credited with reforming the faith and reached a state of nirvana after dying.

For Sikhs, Diwali falls on the anniversary of when Guru Hargobind was released from prison in 1619. Guru Hargobind was the sixth of 10 Sikh guru and founded the military tradition.

And for Buddhists, this day is called Ashok Vijayadashami, and represents when an enlightened Indian ruler, Emperor Ashoka, gave up violence to take on a peaceful path.

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