Diwali is a five day Hindu festival which is widely celebrated throughout India.
Diwali is derived from the Sanskrit word Deepavali, meaning rows of lights. According to the Ramayana and in north India, particularly in
Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Bihar, this festival commemorates the return of
Lord Ram, an incarnation of Lord
Vishnu and the eldest son of King Dasharath of Ayodhya, from his 14 year old exile with Sita and Lakshman after killing Ravan, a demon king. In south India, Diwali is celebrated in commemoration of the destruction of the demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna. On Diwali, the festival of lights, thousands of lamps are lit in and outside every home as a greeting to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Gifts are exchanged and festive meals are prepared during Diwali. Sweets are then distributed, followed by bursting of crackers.