Diwali, Divali or even Deepavali – all of these are correct and mean a ‘Feast of Lights’ and sets the tone for one of the most important holidays in the Indian calendar.
But did you know that there is actually a difference between how South and North Indians celebrate the ‘Festival of Lights’?
The most correct reference to the celebration is Deepavali, hailing from the South Indian Sanskrit vocabulary, meaning a ‘Line of Lamps’.
Hindus will gather this November 14 to celebrate the five days of Deepavali – marking the celebration of Lord Rama’s arrival to Ayodhya after being exiled for 14 years.
Diyas would be lit to guide him, along with his wife Sita and Brother Laxman, home, owing to it being a new moon day and very dark.
Deepavali is observed on the 15th day of Kartika, and in some parts of India it is believed that the day also marks the celebration of Goddess Laxmi’s wedding to Lord Vishnu.
This year the 5 days of Deepavali are set to run from November 12 to November 16.
Renowned as one of India’s most beautiful holidays, colourful lanterns are set to light up the night-sky around the country as family after family prepare altars and decorative floor designs.
The exchange of gifts and sweets, and the lighting of fireworks to ward off evil spirits, is also common.
The holiday aims to celebrate the triumph of good over evil – different regions however use the holiday to honour a number of deities, some being the Goddess Laxmi – celebrated in Gujarat – and the return of Lord Rama from exile being celebrated in the North.
During the main celebration of Deepavali, Indians would cook up a feast of sweet meats which would be exchanged as gifts between friends and family.