Diwali (also spelt Divali in other countries) or Dīpāvali (Tamil: தீபாவளி, Gujarati: દિવાળી, Hindi: दिवाली, Kannada: ದೀಪಾವಳಿ, Konkani: धाकली दिवाळी, Malayalam: ദീപാവലി, Marathi: दिवाळी, Nepali: दिपावली, Oriya: ଦୀପାବଳୀ, Sanskrit: दीपावली, Telugu: దీపావళి, Urdu: دیوالی), also popularly known as the Festival of Lights, is an important 5-day festival in Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism, occurring between mid-October and mid-November. Diwali is an official holiday in India , Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Fiji.
The name Diwali is itself a contraction of the word Dīpāvali दीपावली (Dīpāvali), which translates into row of lamps (din Sanskrit). Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps (divas) (or Deep in Sanskrit: दीप) filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. During Diwali celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with others. Some Indian business communities begin the financial year on the first day of Diwali wishing for good luck the following year.
In Hinduism, Diwali marks the return of Lord Rama to his kingdom of Ayodhya after defeating (the demon king) Ravana, the ruler of Lanka in the epic Ramayana. It also celebrates the slaying of the demon king Narakasura by Lord Krishna. Both signify the victory of good over evil. In Jainism, Diwali marks the attainment of moksha by Mahavira in 527 BC. In Sikhism, Diwali commemorates the return of Guru Har Gobind Ji to Amritsar after freeing 52 Hindu kings imprisoned in Fort Gwalior by Emperor Jahangir; the people lit candles and divas to celebrate his return, which is why Sikhs also refer to Diwali as Bandi Chhorh Divas, "the day of release of detainees". Diwali is considered a national festival in India and Nepal.
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