Diwali will fall on November 14 this year, with many in India, the UAE and others parts of the world gearing up to celebrate the festival of lights that symbolises the victory of good against evil.
What is Diwali?
Diwali (or Deepavali) is a Hindu celebration that marks the return of Rama (a demigod and protagonist of the epic Ramayana) to his kingdom of Ayodhya, after he defeated the demon king Ravana. The city was lit up with diyas (lamps) to welcome its ruler, a tradition that continues to this day with households lit up to celebrate the five-day festival.
In the lead up to Diwali, homes are thoroughly cleaned (akin to spring cleaning) and decorated with lamps, fairy lights and rangoli drawings etched out in colourful powders on the threshold, in a bid to entice Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity.
Fireworks and sweetmeats are other markers of the celebration.
Diwali is on Saturday, November 14, this year. The date changes based on the Hindu lunar calendar, but the festival is usually in October or November.
The first day of Diwali is called Dhanteras, which is on Friday, November 13 this year, and is considered an auspicious day to invest in gold coins, silver and jewellery.
The second day is Naraka Chaturdashi, followed by Lakshmi Puja (a homage to the aforementioned goddess and the main day of Diwali), Govardhan Puja (a celebration of the powers of Lord Krishna) and finally Bhai Dooj (a day when siblings celebrate their bond).
Some Hindu communities consider the day after Diwali to be the start of the new year, so it's common to wish celebrators "Happy Diwali" and "Happy New Year".
The festival is dominated by family gatherings to share food and exchange gifts. However, given that we are in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic, UAE authorities have urged strict adherence to coronavirus safety guidelines.