The Hindu religious holiday of Diwali, also called Deepavali or the “Festival of Lights”, is not an official public holiday in the United States. But it is has grown in significance in parts of the country where growing populations of people from the subcontinent live. Today, there are private and public Diwali festivals held in many places across the country.
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Diwali is always celebrated between mid-October and mid-November in the western calendar, depending upon the lunar cycle each year. During the Festival of Lights, many people of South Asian descent light traditional lanterns at night and may attend special Hindu services.
The Festival of Lights is a colourful and happy celebration. Families prepare their homes and themselves for the special festivities that symbolize the victory of spiritual goodness and the lifting of spiritual darkness. Fireworks displays are set off to drive away evil, oil lamps are lit, flower garlands are made, candles float in bowls of water outside homes and sweets are shared as part of the festivities.
Recently, Disneyland and Times Square in New York City, along with certain museums and public parks, have scheduled Diwali events.
Celebrations centre around the lighting of traditional lanterns but also include colourful parades, traditional Indian dancing and singing, food stalls, and other cultural elements. The holiday is celebrated throughout the Autumn, but the main events fall on a single date. Diwali is a harvest festival slated just before New Year’s Day on the Hindu calendar.