Diwali, the festival of lights, is the most popular of all the festivals from South Asia. It is an occasion for celebrations by Hindus as well as Jains and Sikhs. It marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year according to the Lunar Calendar. It celebrates the victory of goodness over evil, light over darkness and ushers in the New Year. On this festival people clean their houses and wear new clothes.
Diwali is a 5 days festival as Dhanteras, Choti Diwali, Badi (Main) Diwali, Padwa and Bhaiduj. There are many different names for the days of Diwali in different regions of India. During Diwali people pray to Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth, light, prosperity and wisdom, and also worship Lord Ganesha, the ‘Remover of Obstacles’, the ‘Lord of Beginnings’.
On the first day of the Diwali festival people pray and eat a special breakfast made of many different foods. Dipa Lights (also called Diwali Diyas, candles, Ghee Lamps, Parvati Ganesha Lamps) that are made of clay, fueled with Oil or Ghee (clarified butter), the wick made of cotton wool, are placed outside of houses, on floors and doorways.
During Diwali festival doorways are hung with torans of mango leaves and marigolds. On the day of Diwali, in the evening people wear best of their clothes, exchange gifts, burst crackers and make merry with their family friends and relatives.