TIME Holidays

What to Know About Diwali 2016

The five-day festival celebrates the triumph of good over evil

Diwali, one of the biggest holidays in Indian culture, is a five-day festival of lights celebrated worldwide by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains. This year, the traditional day of Diwali falls on Oct. 30, though celebrations span the entire week leading up to and following the holiday, which marks the triumph of good over evil.

Diwali has a host of legends to explain its origin, but the most popular one recounts the tale of Lord Rama and his wife Sita, who returned to the city of Ayodhya after 14 years in exile. In the Indian epic poem Ramayana, Lord Rama defeats the evil 10-headed king Ravana and rescues Sita, whom Ravana had kidnapped. According to the legend, Lord Rama’s devotees in Ayodhya filled the city with flowers and lit rows of clay lamps to welcome him and Sita back, signifying good vanquishing evil.

To celebrate Diwali, Indians across the world light fireworks and candles and decorate their homes with rangoli—patterns made out of colored rice or powder. Families clean their houses, buy new clothes, eat sweets and share presents. Learn more in the video above.

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