The festival usually falls between the middle of October and the middle of November, although this is decided upon by the Hindu lunar calendar. It symbolises the replacement of darkness (ignorance) with ‘inner’ light – garnered via the pursuit of knowledge and spiritual practices. Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and Ganesha, the elephant-headed god of good fortune and auspicious beginnings.
While each faith has its own reason to celebrate the festival, one of the most popular stories told is the legend of Lord Ram and his wife Sita returning to their kingdom in Northern India from exile after defeating the demon king Ravan in the 15th century BC.
Worshipers pray for prosperity and well-being for the year that lies ahead, with fireworks and crackers proffering plenty of raucous razzle-dazzle when devotional formalities come to a close. The noise is believed to herald the defeat of evil and catch the attention of the gods.
Houses and shops are given a rigorous spring clean before being lovingly decorated with fairy lights, patterned lanterns and colourful rangolis. The streets teem with shoppers keenly stocking up on everything from fancy new clothes and festive household decorations, to gifts for family, friends and business acquaintances.
The modern world is changing and the festivals are the only way to keep our culture and traditions alive. For us, Diwali is the victory of good over evil, the returning of good back into our lives and starting a new year with a positive approach.