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