Diwali, the festival of lights for Hindus, Jains and Sikhs, is celebrated today, Thursday, Oct. 23.
Diwali – Sanskrit for “a row of lights” – symbolizes the victory of light over dark, good over evil and knowledge over darkness. The festival is celebrated for five continuous days with the third day, today, as the day for celebrations.
Diwali is celebrated by wearing new clothes, lighting oil lamps, setting off firecrackers which the festival is associated, decorating the home, giving out mithai – sweets and pastries – and partying with friends and family. Diwali is never complete without the exchange of gifts. This is also the day on which many Hindus begin their new fiscal year.
Sikhs celebrate by reading from the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy text.
Here is a great article by the Wall Street Journal on 5 Things to Know About Diwali.