• Diwali is celebrated over a number of days. The festival of light takes place in the latter half of the last month of the Hindu year.
    Each Hindu month is split into 15 day cycles. The second half being the darker as the Hindu calendar is based on lunar cycles. Hindus generally start doing pooja (offering prayers) on the 10th day of the second half of the month. On the 11th day which is called Ekadashi. People tend to fast and offer prayers to Vishnu and Krishna, followed by Vagh Baras when the goddess of power, Durga Maa is worshipped with various poojas and ‘abhishek’. (Abhishek means the bathing of a deity by constant flow of water). Five days of celebrations begin thereafter.

    DAY 1 - Dhun Teras (13th Day)
    ‘Dhun’ means money or wealth. Traditionally people would wash their money on this day. In their homes, people literally wash coins in milk and water and worship Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. It can also be said that to give or distribute money to the poor and needy, is a way of ‘washing your wealth’.
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    DAY 2 - Kali Chaudas (14th Day)
    Some say that those who are into tantra, learn their ‘mantras’ on this day. Alternatively, people offer Nived (food) to the goddess that is local to where they are originally from. This goddess is called their ‘Kul Devi’, in order to cast off evil spirits. Some families also offer food to their forefathers on this day.
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    DAY 3 - Diwali (15th Day)
    Diwali is the last day of the Hindu year and thus also the end of the Hindu financial year. Many businessmen close their account books and do rituals to open their new account books for the next financial year, in order to gain prosperity in the next financial year. In the Ramayana, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana returned to the kingdom of Ayodhya on this day as it was the last day of the last year of their 14 year banishment. As it was so dark, the subjects of the kingdom, lit ‘divas’ (little wicks doused in ghee) to light the path. The lights are seen as a triumph of good over evil, light over dark, happiness (the homecoming) over sadness (the banishment).
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    DAY 4 - New Year's Day (1st Day)
    The new cycle of days now starts with Bestu Varush or New Year’s Day. Everybody greets each other with good wishes and a happy new year, 'Saal Mubarak’. The young bow down and touch the feet of their elders to gain blessings. Money or gifts of clothes are also given. At the temples 56 different foods are offered to the deities, this is known as Annakut Darshan, the food is blessed and offered as prashad to the people who come to worship at the temple and to the poor and needy.
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    DAY 5 - Bhai Bhij or Bhai Duuj (2nd Day)
    Sisters call their brothers and his family to their homes for a meal. Brothers normally take a gift or leave money under their plates when they have finished their meal. Traditionally this was so that the brother could check that all was well with his sister in her marital home.
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    Sikhs and Jains celebrate Diwali for different reasons, find out more...
    Sikhism  - Watch the clip 
    Jainism - Watch the clip 

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    Clips have been taken from BBC Asian Programmes 'Diwali - Festival of Lights' first shown in 1999, presented by Anita Bhalla.
Last Modified on December 20, 2007