Diwali, the spectacular Hindu festival of lights celebrated all over the world, will kick off Sunday, Nov. 3.
The five-day event begins with traditional holiday staples like candles and oil lamps, called "diyas." Diwali, a contraction of the word "Deepavali" -- meaning row of lights in Sanskrit -- is often celebrated with food, dancing, parties and, of course, colorful lights hanging everywhere. Many Hindus celebrate with prayer to Sita, a descendant of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and beauty, and Rama, the supreme God and descendant of Vishnu.
The festival symbolizes the victory of light over dark, good over evil, and knowledge over darkness, and honors of the return of Hindu god Rama to his kingdom after years of exile. In the ancient Sanskrit epic "Ramayana," Lord Rama along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana are welcomed back to their kingdom Ayodhya, with residents lighting oil lamps following the defeat of the demon king Ravana.
Hindus continue to commemorate these events by lighting oil lamps, decorating their homes, and eating sweet treats. While some Hindus also exchange gifts made of gold, this year that could be problematic since a report last week said supplies of gold jewelry in India may be depleted right before Diwali. “The reality is that the supply chain in India is currently too slow to keep up with what is expected to be strong physical demand during the Diwali holiday period,” UBS precious metals analyst Joni Teves said.
Diwali is not only celebrated in India, where more than 80 percent of the country identifies as Hindu. Many other nations with large Hindu populations, like Trinidad and Tobago, also celebrate Diwali, each giving the holiday its own unique cultural flavor.
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In New Delhi, the capital of India, residents customarily decorate their homes with "rangolis," flowers, lights and earthen "diyas" for the occasion. In the Indian city of Amritsar, thousands flock to Harmandir Sahib, a prominent Sikh Gurdwara nicknamed “The Golden Temple,” to pay obeisance.
Roger Seepersad, of Trinidad and Tobago, told CNN last year "the Hindu community celebrates by cleaning their houses and preparing foods such as roti, channa and aloo, white rice, and various vegetable curries. They also prepare sweets like parsad, kurma and barfi. At around 6 p.m., they light diyas around their houses. Hindus invite friends and family over to help with the diya lighting and to just enjoy each other's company ... At night there are usually tons of fireworks as well."
View the slideshow to see photos of Diwali all over the world this year as well as past years.