Diwali also called Divali, Deepavali or the “Festival of Lights”, is an important five day festival in the Hindu calendar occurring between mid-October and mid-November. The name “Diwali” or “Divali” is a contraction of deepavali which literally means a “Row of Lights.” It is a time filled with light and love; a time when Hindus all over the world rejoice.
The meanings of Diwali, it’s symbols and rituals, and the reasons for celebration are many. In general, it signifies the triumph of good over evil, of righteousness over treachery, of truth over falsehood and of light over darkness. Additionally, it is a holy time in which prayers are offered to Maha Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity.
There are three main aspects to this festival: firstly, it is a celebration of light. On a physical level homes and streets are lined with lanterns, fireworks explode and children play with sparklers. On a spiritual level however, the light of Diwali signifies the everlasting light of God which dispels the darkness of our ignorance and brings light to our entire being.
Secondly, Diwali heralds the beginning of a new year. A time to start things afresh, to clean one’s ‘house’ both on a physical and metaphorical level.
The third, and perhaps most important, aspect of Diwali is the worship of Maha Lakshmi. Maha Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and prosperity, bestowing these abundantly upon her devotees. On Diwali people pray to her for prosperity; asking her to lavish them with her blessings of faith, purity and devotion.
Explanations in article derived from “The Meaning of Diwali” by Swami Chidanand Saraswati.