Diwali / Deepavali

A tray of five diyas (oil lamps)

Diwali (also called Deepavali), the festival of lights, is a major holiday celebrated in various traditions by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and some Buddhists. India is the country where Diwali is most celebrated, but it is also celebrated around the world in various ways by communities from these religious traditions. This year, the holiday will last from Tuesday, November 2 to Saturday, November 6, with the main day of celebration being Thursday, November 4. The central day of Diwali, the one of greatest celebration, is always the fifteenth day of the month of Kartika in the Hindu lunisolar calendar, during which the night is the darkest of the month. Originally a harvest festival, Diwali symbolizes the victory of good over evil and wisdom over ignorance. People celebrate this holiday with decorating, shopping, gift-giving, feasting, eating mithai (sweets), setting off fireworks and firecrackers, and prayers.


street lights and decorations for Diwali
street decorations for Diwali
a rangoli with elaborate design
an elaborate rangoli

The word Diwali comes from Sanskrit words meaning "row of lights." Lights and colors are a significant feature of Diwali celebrations, which feature many diyas, or oil lamps, such as those shown above. Sometimes these lamps are set adrift on streams or rivers. The holiday also commonly features rangolis, which are temporary, colorful designs made with rice flour, powders, sand, and/or flowers on floors and surfaces. Rangoli designs are often passed down the generations in a family, and are intended to welcome good luck and wealth into a household.


Rangolis can be very elaborate and colorful. Interested in making your own rangoli design? Educational Park Branch Library is offering an in-person event for children on Saturday, November 6, 2021 from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM: Rangoli for Diwali with Peopleologie (no registration, first 25 participants to arrive will be admitted).


stacks of sweets for Diwali
mithai (sweets)


Interested in learning more about Diwali? Listed below are some fun SJPL resources for children about this exciting holiday.

Blog Category

Add new comment

Comments are expected to follow the basic rules of civility and be relevant to the topic being commented upon. Comments will be reviewed prior to posting. Blog comments represent the views of the person commenting, not necessarily those of San José Public Library. For more information see SJPL's Comment Guidelines.