What is Diwali, the Festival of Lights?

Ajit Solanki/AP
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What is Diwali, the festival of lights?

Ajit Solanki/AP
Indian Hindu women light earthen lamps on a rangoli, a hand decorated pattern on the floor, as part of Diwali festivities in Ahmadabad, India, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018. Hindu festival of lights Diwali will be celebrated on Nov. 7.

This time of year, one of the most important holidays of the year is celebrated in India. 

Diwali falls on different days each year and varies by region. 

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Here are some facts about Diwali, or the Festival of Lights.

What does it celebrate?

The specific interpretation depends on the religion, but for most, the festival celebrates good succeeding over evil

Traditions include decorations and games.

Homes are decorated with rangolis, brightly colored geometric designs on the floor made with powders, candles or diyas, or lamps. There are also  gambling card games. like Teen Patti, a three-card game, blackjack and poker. Gambling parties are often held until early in the morning.

It’s also celebrated by non-Hindu communities.

In Jainism, the festival marks the spiritual awakening of Lord Mahavira. In Sikhism, it marks the day Guru Hargobind Ji was freed from imprisonment. Regardless of faith, the festival has grown to be a celebration throughout India.

There are five days of celebration.

On the first day, Dhanteras, or day of fortune, people clean their homes and shop for gold or kitchen utensils. Day two is Naraka Chaturdasi, or day of knowledge. On this day people decorate their floors with rangolis.

The third day is the day of light and the main day of the festival. People gather for Lakshmi puja, a prayer to Goddess Lakshmi. After that, there is food and fireworks.

On day four, Annakut, is the first day of the new year. Friends and family get together with gifts. Day five, Bhai Duj, or day of love between siblings, is the last day. The holiday ends as sisters and brothers come together for a day of prayer and exchange gifts.

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