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Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is just days away. Diwali is normally celebrated with dinner parties, gifts, and games with family and friends, but this year it will be different due to COVID-19 restrictions. What is Diwali all about and when is Diwali 2020?
The Diwali festival originated in India and is thought of as a fusion of the harvest festivals in ancient India.
Most of the Indian population —about 80 percent — practise Hinduism, but other Indians practise Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism.
Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Newar Buddhists, but it marks different historical events and stories for each.
However, the Festival of Lights represents the same thing and is generally celebrated in the same way for each religion.
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The five-day celebration is called the Festival of Lights because Hindus, Jains and Sikhs light up their homes, temples and work spaces with diyas, candles and lanterns.
On day one, known as Dhanteras or Dhanatrayodash, people tend to clean up and do their chores.
They then install diyas, which are small oil-filled lamps, and women and children decorate homes and offices with colourful designs, petals, and coloured sand.
The men are responsible for decorating the roofs and walls and homes, markets and temples.
People also use the day to go shopping to buy new clothing, homeware and utensils, decorations, and firecrackers.
In the evening of the first day, there will be prayers and Hindus lay offerings of things like rice cakes and puffed rice.
On day two, which is called Naraka Chaturdashi or Chhoti Diwali, rituals are performed to free any souls from hell.
Hindus focus on the souls of their ancestors and use lights to guide them to a peaceful afterlife in the same way that Krishna destroyed the asura demon Narakasura and freed 16,000 imprisoned princesses.
On this day, particular sweets are bought and made from things like chickpea flour, dry fruit, semolina, rice, and ghee.
Families spend time making delicacies for day three of Diwali, and visit their friends, co-workers and relatives to exchange gifts.
Some people visit their favourite temple on this day.
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Day three of Diwali, Lakshmi Pujan or Kali Puja, is considered the main event of Diwali.
This is the day when buildings are lit up with lights and the youngest members of families visit their elders, whether that’s grandparents or seniors in the community.
Shops in Hindu countries or owned by those celebrating Diwali either don’t open or close early, and some owners give bonuses to their employees.
Everyone wears new clothes or their finest clothes, and women tend to wear jewellery and saris.
Prayers are offered in the evening, and then lamps are lit and fireworks are set off.
Finally, there’s a family feast and there are rituals to let the goddess Lakshmi into homes to bring good luck and happiness.
Day four is called a range of names from Annakut to Bali Pratipada.
This day is about the relationship between husbands and wives and normally there are gifts exchanged between married couples.
The fifth day is called Bhai Duj which literally means ‘brother’s day’, and celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters.
The females in the family perform a puja with prayers for the brothers and then feed their brothers with their hands.
When is Diwali 2020?
The date of Diwali changes every year because the Hindu calendar is based on the lunar and solar cycles.
Diwali is always on the fifteenth day of the Hindu month of Kartik, which is the day of the New Moon.
This year, Lakshmi Pujan (Diwali Day) falls on Saturday, November 14.
This means the first day of Diwali is on Thursday, November 12.
The fifth and final day of Diwali is Monday, November 16.
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