Across the world today, Hindus are celebrating Diwali, one of the religion’s most important holidays. Popularly known as the “festival of lights,” Hindus mark the occasion by decorating their homes with flowers, paper lanterns, powders and earthen oil lamps called Diyas, which signify the triumph of good over evil. Other traditions associated with the holiday include cleaning your house, wearing new clothes, sharing sweets with your family and lighting off firecrackers to drive away evil spirits.
Officially, the holiday celebrates the homecoming of the God Ram after vanquishing the demon king Ravana. That’s the abridged version of the story, as it took the God Ram 14 years to do so. The holiday also honors the Hindu goddess of wealth, Lakshmi.
In India, the festival also marks the end of the harvest season, so many people give thanks for the year gone by and pray for a good harvest in the year to come. However, the festival is celebrated across the globe – from Nepal to New Zealand, and also in Fiji, Britain, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States.