Diwali (or Deepavali, Tihar or Swanti) is a festival of lights primarily celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Newar Bhuddists but also, occasionally, fans of holidays, South Asian food or culture. As with all ancient holidays, the true origins are obscure but undoubtedly symbolize the triumph of good over evil. Probably due to its timing, it wouldn't be too unlikely that its roots were in an ancient harvest festival. As is also true of all ancient holidays, Diwali acquired additional significance over the millenia for different people. In the modern age it's marked with lots of lights, house cleanings, new outfits, decorations, flowers and snacking on sweets. This year Diwali fell on the 28th, but was celebrated in the Southland's Little India neighborhood yesterday, on the first.
Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, is honored on this day to ensure a good year will follow and, in northern India, the financial year begins on Diwali. In parts of India, the homecoming of King Rama of Ayodhya is observed with the lighting of rows (avali) of lamps (deepa) which were used to light his way after a 14 year exile. In western India it marks the day King Bali was sent to rule the underworld by Vishnu. Southern India marks it as the day Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura.