The most joyful holiday in the Hindu calendar is Diwali, The Festival of Lights. This is a five-day festival. It begins just before the New Year in the Hindu lunar calendar. Each day of the festival is celebrated in a unique way. On day one, families decorate their doorsteps or sidewalks with brightly colored sand paintings. These patterns are called rangoli art. They are often in the shape of lotus flowers. Rice paste is used to make tiny footprints in the patterns. Rows of clay lamps are lit around homes and businesses. These decorations act as an invitation to Lakshmi, a Hindu goddess.
According to the Hindu tradition, Lakshmi brings wealth and good fortune to the homes she visits. During Diwali it is customary to leave all windows and doors open so that the goddess of prosperity can enter.The first day is also the time to pray for protection against untimely death.
On day two of Diwali, parents give children new clothes and jewelry. Everyone bathes in oil and relaxes in preparation for the big day ahead. Day three is the main day of the festival. It is a day mixed with prayer, sweets, and fireworks. This is India’s New Year’s Eve! It is also the last day of the financial year. On day four, everyone wears new clothes and jewelry to the temple.
The final day is a celebration of siblings. Brothers and sisters pray for each other and exchange gifts.