Fall is more than just a time to celebrate pumpkins and colored leaves. From October 18 to October 22, it’s a time to celebrate Diwali, a Hindu festival of light, knowledge and hope.1 This ancient holiday is recognized by millions of people around the globe, but for those traveling to India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad, Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore or Fiji, where Diwali is considered an official holiday, a special treat awaits. As these travelers join the locals in a celebration of the triumph of good over evil, they may look forward to:
To the locals who celebrate it, Diwali is known simply as the “Festival of Light.” In accordance with tradition, followers light clay lamps to help illuminate the dark path of the mythical Lord Rama as he is welcomed home after 14 years of exile – a reward for killing the ten-headed demon king Ravana.1 In honor of this tale, the yearly celebration of Diwali includes the lighting of many lamps and displays of fireworks.1
From jewel-toned ceremonial robes to vibrant jewelry and flower motifs, Diwali is a festival shrouded in color – primarily, red, yellow, orange, green and white.2 During the festival, participants often create a design called rangoli on the floors of their homes. Rangoli designs are bright, colorful and created with an unbroken line.2 Those who celebrate Diwali believe the unbroken line helps ensure that no evil spirits enter their home, and that the area is welcoming and sacred.
As is common with festivals around the world, Diwali includes its share of food. But what kind of food is most popular during the week-long celebration? Sweets, and in particular, mithai. Mithai is a cinnamon flavored sweetmeat which is a cross between a snack and a dessert and is eaten on its own or alongside a hearty meal.3 Its base consists of chickpea flour, rice flour, semolina, beans, lentils, grains, squashes, carrots, and condensed milk or yogurt, and its toppings may include almonds, chirongi nuts, raisins and cashews.3
Check out some of the best Diwali celebrations in the world according to Lonely Planet.