Hindus Celebrate Diwali, the New Year

Today is Diwali: the most important Hindu holiday, celebrated by nearly 1 billion people worldwide.

The holiday generally falls on a day in late October or early November — based on the Hindu calendar — and marks the beginning of the Hindu new year.

The origins of Diwali can be traced back to a religious myth about the Hindu God Rama, who was banished from his kingdom for 14 years and returned on the day of Diwali.  During his exile, the demon king Ravan captured Ram’s wife Sita, and Rama returned only after winning a battle against Ravan and rescuing Sita.  To celebrate his return and welcome him back to his kingdom, candles were lit in rows – a tradition that is still honored today.

So, in addition to ringing the New Year, the holiday also celebrates the triumph of good over evil, of light over darkness. 

And so, candles are lit by Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists around the world in celebration of Diwali, also known as the festival of lights.

In India, the country with the largest Hindu population, the national holiday was celebrated today as fireworks exploded in the sky, people paid homage at temples, homes were decorated with fresh flowers, and markets buzzed as people joined the long lines at sweet shops.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons 

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Masuma Ahuja

Having lived on three continents, I'm particularly interested in global issues and international politics. I'm a recent graduate from Oxford, with an honors BA in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics. I've also worked on the hill, in microfinance, and for various nonprofits and media outlets.

MORE FROM

President Donald Trump turns Boy Scout Jamboree into campaign rally

The president discussed health care, Hillary Clinton, Obama, big yachts and more to 40,000 Boy Scouts and volunteers

This child kept HIV in remission for 8 years without drugs. Here’s what that really means.

More than eight years after his initial treatment, the child is still in remission.

Driver charged with human trafficking after 30-40 people found locked in fatally hot tractor-trailer

The charge against James Matthew Bradley, the alleged driver of the vehicle, could carry a punishment as severe as the death penalty.

Charlie Gard’s parents end legal fight to continue treatment for terminally ill son

The parents have withdrawn their request for Charlie to receive treatment in the U.S.

10th person dies after 38 found locked in sweltering tractor-trailer outside Texas Walmart

8 were found dead at the scene; 2 more died after being rushed to the hospital in critical or serious condition.

Dozens killed in deadly car bomb attack in Kabul

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.

President Donald Trump turns Boy Scout Jamboree into campaign rally

The president discussed health care, Hillary Clinton, Obama, big yachts and more to 40,000 Boy Scouts and volunteers

This child kept HIV in remission for 8 years without drugs. Here’s what that really means.

More than eight years after his initial treatment, the child is still in remission.

Driver charged with human trafficking after 30-40 people found locked in fatally hot tractor-trailer

The charge against James Matthew Bradley, the alleged driver of the vehicle, could carry a punishment as severe as the death penalty.

Charlie Gard’s parents end legal fight to continue treatment for terminally ill son

The parents have withdrawn their request for Charlie to receive treatment in the U.S.

10th person dies after 38 found locked in sweltering tractor-trailer outside Texas Walmart

8 were found dead at the scene; 2 more died after being rushed to the hospital in critical or serious condition.

Dozens killed in deadly car bomb attack in Kabul

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.