Diwali - or the Festival of Lights - is one of the most vibrant festivals of the year, with homes, communities and streets all coming alive with colour. It is also one of the most important events in the Hindu calendar and is celebrated all around the world.
When is it?
The festival falls between October and November, but the exact date changes each year, as it is based around the Hindu Lunisolar calendar and also depends on the phases of the moon. This year, Diwali kicks off today - on 7 November if you haven't checked your calendar.
The festival typically lasts for five days with the climax occurring on the third day, which coincides with the darkest night of the Lunisolar month, Kartika.
Festival of Lights
The word Diwali comes from the Sanskrit, Deepavali, which means ‘rows of lighted lamps’. Although it is widely known as a Hindu ceremony, Diwali is also celebrated by Jains, Sikhs and Newar Buddhists.
Throughout Diwali, India becomes even more colourful to celebrate the festival, and cities all over the world that have large Hindu communities come alive with lights. Leicester, in the UK, holds one of the biggest events outside India, with thousands of people taking part in traditional celebrations, as well as a huge fireworks display.
Leading up to the festival, traditionally, people often give their houses and places of work a good scrub, some even decorate to give everywhere a feeling of starting afresh - to symbolise new beginnings. It is also an opportunity to buy new clothes for the celebrations for those who like to hit the shops.
Homes are illuminated with diyas (oil lamps), and when the sun goes down, the skies explode with fireworks, which is where the ‘Festival of Lights’ comes from. In keeping with the bright theme, people often decorate their floors with Rangoli designs. Rangoli is made using flower petals, colourful powders and rice to produce beautiful works of art that are said to bring good luck. Popular Rangoli designs include the faces of Hindu deities, geometric shapes and round floral designs.
As with all the best festivals, food is an important element of Diwali. Families and communities come together for meals and gifts are also often exchanged.
Where to go
Where better to experience all this than India? It is one of the most enthralling destinations in the world to visit with lots of exciting things to see and do. With its welcoming people, delicious cuisine bursting with flavour, enchanting temples and religious sites, as well as its diverse scenery, India is intoxicating - in all the best possible ways.
There are so many interesting destinations to visit in India, it is difficult to pick just one place, but I'll give it a go!
The Golden Triangle is a popular option, taking in Delhi, Agra and Jaipur - which form a triangle on the map if you're questioning the nickname. Here, you will be able to immerse yourself in the wonderful local bazaars, beautiful sprawling buildings, exciting tuk-tuk rides and, of course, the Taj Mahal - one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. It is impossible to do it all in one trip, which is a great excuse to take a longer holiday, or return and experience it all again.
If you really want to get away from it all and leave the busy cities behind, Goa is the perfect option as it is home to some of the world's most beautiful beaches.
India’s sunshine state has long been a paradise for sun worshippers thanks to its golden shores, though there’s much more to Goa than that. Its coastline is peppered with charming villages, bustling communities and plenty of things to do should you want to leave the sand.
Whatever you’re looking for in a beach, Goa has it.
If you’re looking for entertainment, watersports and lots of activities to keep you busy, Calangute - Queen of Beaches - and the adjacent Baga Beach are the places to be. With plenty of sun loungers, you can spend the whole day enjoying the sun without moving should you wish. If it’s action you’re after, try parasailing or another adrenalin-filled sport. By night, it becomes a party town, with the nearby Tito’s Lane acting as the hub of the nightlife.
Arambol Beach is a lot more Goan than those of Calangute and Baga, with a hippy atmosphere and a local village feel to it. Lush green forest and gentle hills frame the long sandy shore, which is a relaxing haven for those looking to chill. You will often find small groups of people singing along to a guitar or the beat of a drum, but other than that, it is often a quiet stretch of beach. If you’re looking for somewhere to get away from it all, Arambol Beach is a little paradise.
If you would like to visit India for colourful culture, beautiful beaches and delicious cuisine, click the RCI Resort Directory button below and start your accommodation search.
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