Diwali, or Deepavali, is the festival of lights and signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil. It is one of the most popular festivals of Hindus and is celebrated over a period of 5 days
Diwali falls on the new moon day (Amavasya) of the eighth Hindu calendar (Kartik). This date changes in relation to the Gregorian calendar, but is near November. The celebrations begin 2 days earlier and last until 2 days after.
The first day marks Dhanvantri, the god of Ayurveda, appearing from Samudra Manthan. It is considered auspicious to purchase metals and donate to bring in fortune.
The 2nd day (Chhoti Diwali) marks Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama killing the demon Narakasura and rescuing 16,000 women held hostage.
Diwali marks the return of Lord Rama after his 14-year exile. Ayodhya residents celebrated his arrival by lighting diyas. On the day of Diwali, Lakshmi and Ganesha pooja is performed at home and the entire house is decorated with diyas and lights.
It is celebrated as a day of devotion and gratitude with lots of food. Bhai Dooj, on the 5th day, celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters.
The sixth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Hargobind Singh Ji was released from the prison of Mughal emperor Jahangir along with 52 other princes.
Lord Mahavira, the twenty-fourth Jain Tirthankara attained Nirvana on this day. The Jain new year starts the day after Diwali.
Over the past few years, members of the Hindu community in America have celebrated this festival by giving back to society through food donation drives.