The Auckland Diwali Festival takes its inspiration from Diwali or Deepavali (row of lamps), an important and ancient Indian festival celebrated throughout India and in Indian communities around the world.
Colloquially known as ‘The Festival of Lights’, Diwali signifies the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil and the renewal of life.
Diwali commemorates the return of Lord Rama, his wife and brother from their 14-year exile and their defeat of the 10-headed demon-king Ravana. This story is depicted in The Ramayana - one of the two great Sanskrit epics and is in poem form.
Villagers traditionally celebrated the return of Lord Rama by setting off fireworks and lighting diyas (clay lamps) to guide their journey back to their kingdom.
Indian families today celebrate Diwali with family and friends, dressing in traditional clothing, exchanging Indian sweets or gifts, cooking and eating together and enjoying song and dance. At night, homes are decorated with clay lamps and fireworks are set off.
Women decorate their hands or feet in henna and decorate the entrance to their homes with rangoli (decorations made from coloured powder, rice or flowers).
The more religious families will start the day with prayer.