Many people immediately think of Halloween and Christmas when it comes to winter holidays, but in Hindu culture there’s another major winter holiday that can’t be missed – Diwali. Diwali is also known as the festival of lights, and is celebrated by millions of people around the world. This year it falls on October 23rd. Find out more in All About Diwali! What is Diwali? Diwali originated in India as a celebration of light, in fact the world Diwali comes from “deepavali”, meaning “row of lamps.” It is traditionally celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs, although over the years it has been incorporated into many different cultures around the world. It is known as the festival of lights because in celebration people light many small clay lamps called “diyas” around their homes to represent the victory of good over evil and to invite good luck and prosperity from the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi and the God Ganesh, who represents good luck, wealth and enlightenment. How to Celebrate For Hindus this is one of the most important days of the year, and it involves spending time with family and performing traditional activities. Families clean their homes from top to bottom so that when the lamps are lit it will be suitable for the Goddess of wealth and knowledge, Lakshmi, to enter their home and bless them with good fortune for the upcoming year, as well as the God of good luck, Ganesh. Traditional families will make an offering to the goddess of fruit, rice pudding, flowers and other assorted gifts. To offer these goods the family performs a “puja,” which involves saying sacred words and singing. Unlike Western holidays, it’s also considered very important to refrain from eating meat and drinking alcohol in honor of the divine spirits being invited into your home. Traditionally every home will set out tiny clay pots with wicks and oil all around their home, and in places where Diwali is a national holiday public places are also lit up with lots of beautiful candles and lamps. Some families exchange gifts and make a big dinner for family and friends Diwali Fun Facts! Diwali is a national holiday in India, Trinidad & Tobago, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Guyana, Surinam, Singapore, Malaysia and Fiji. Diwali is the beginning of the financial year for Indian businesses Diwali marks the end of the harvest season in India Have Your Say Do you celebrate Diwali? Let us know in the comments section below.