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Guides: Religious Festivals

Last Updated: Wednesday November 14 2001 18:01 GMT

Religious festivals

Diwali celebrations in Leicester
Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, is the most popular of all the festivals from South Asia. It is also the occasion for celebrations by Jains and Sikhs as well as Hindus.

Hindus celebrate the return of Rama and Sita to Ayodhya after their 14-year exile. They also celebrate the day Mother Goddess destroyed a demon called Mahisha.

Sikhs particularly celebrate the release from prison of the sixth guru, Hargobind Singh in 1619. However Sikhs celebrated the festival before this date. In fact the foundation stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar, the most holy place in the Sikh world, was laid on Diwali in 1577.

The founder of Janism is Lord Mahavira. During Diwali, Jains celebrate the moment he reached a state called Moksha (Nirvana, or eternal bliss).

Traditions

  • Countless lights and oil lamps are lit on the streets and in houses
  • People visit their relations and have feasts
  • Fireworks and festivities are an essential part of the occasion
  • Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, is worshipped as the bringer of blessings for the new year

    When

  • October/November