Celebrated by millions of people in India and across the world, Diwali is one of the most popular festivals on the Hindu calendar. It's associated with fireworks, lights, vibrant colours and elaborate artistic patterns made from flowers and coloured powders. It coincides with the new moon and it falls on the darkest night in the Hindu lunisolar calendar.
Diwali or Deepavali which both translate as "row of lights" is also known as the Festival of Lights. Communities come together to celebrate light over darkness, good over evil, hope over despair and knowledge over ignorance. The light which is a prominent part of the festival and can be seen on the streets, business premises and people's homes is also a metaphor for knowledge and consciousness.
Did you know that the largest Diwali celebrations outside India are held in Leicester? Tens of thousands of people gather on the streets of the city in the East Midlands to enjoy the light shows, music and dancing.
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Diwali traditions and celebrations
The mesmerising magnificence of Diwali revolves around traditions and customs which transform it into a five-day experience for all the senses. Communities unite and families come together to set the enchanting scene which is adored by everyone involved and present.
The magical atmosphere we all associate with Diwali is a labour of love, tradition and preparations which begin weeks in advance and culminate in the first couple of days of the festival. Celebrants use that time to clean and decorate their homes before the main festivities. True to tradition, they also go shopping for new outfits and gifts for friends and relatives.
The Festival of Lights honours the Goddess of wealth and prosperity - Lakshmi. On the third day, people light their diyas (small oil lamps) and leave them on all night to guide the Goddess to their homes.
The third day, known as the main Diwali is also the Hindu New Year. Families and friends gather together to pray, feast, celebrate and relax. Then they go out to admire the fireworks and to celebrate New Year's Eve.
On the fourth day (New Year's Day) relatives and friends visit each other to exchange gifts. The last day is dedicated to the brothers in the family. Sisters cook for their brothers, put teekas (red dots) on their foreheads, take blessings and use this occasion to bond with each other.
The elaborate patterns which are prominent features of the festival are called rangoli. Traditionally they are made from coloured flour, sand, dry rice and flower petals. They can be seen outside, on front doors and in the homes of the celebrants. Often these geometric floor designs include carnations, roses and orchids. The rangoli are arranged to welcome the Gods and bring good luck.
Gift giving and flower delivery for Diwali
The tradition of gift giving on Diwali represents the love, respect, appreciation and affection people have for one another. Gifts are also seen as representation of prayers for the well being and prosperity of the recipient.
All gifts are welcome and appreciated. A special flower delivery of their favourite blooms is a sure way to put a smile on the face of the recipient and wish them a Happy Diwali.