Diwali, the festival of lights, is being celebrated in India with joy and fervor Tuesday.
The five-day festival is celebrated all over the country by lighting lamps, bursting crackers, offering prayers to Goddess Lakhsmi -- the goddess of wealth -- and by performing the traditional rituals.
Diwali, also known as Deepavali (meaning, an array of little lighted lamps), is a symbol of triumph of good over evil, as manifested in several folklores associated with the festival.
Though Diwali is celebrated widely in all parts of India, there are regional variations on the rituals and the beliefs associated with the fest. However, lighting lamps, bursting crackers and worshiping Goddess Lakshmi are the common features of the celebrations.
In South Indian states, Diwali is celebrated to mark Lord Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, killing a wicked demon named Narakasura.
In some parts of North India, Diwali is celebrated to mark Lord Rama’s (another incarnation of Lord Vishnu) return to his kingdom with wife Sita and brother Lakshman after 14 years of exile.
In certain places, Diwali is celebrated as a day marking the return of Mahabali, a benevolent demon king, from the netherworld. According to myths, while banishing Mahabali from his kingdom to the netherworld, Lord Vishnu allowed him to visit his subjects once a year. On Diwali day, he is believed to be returning to his kingdom and the people welcome their beloved king with lighted lamps and crackers.
The houses and streets are illuminated with lamps, decorative lights and crackers on Diwali nights and the people celebrate brightness, goodness and joy by wearing new clothes, exchanging greetings, visiting friends and families and sharing sweets.
A public holiday, Diwali is one of the major festivals in India and marks the end of a long festival season starting with the Ganesha Chathurthi in September, followed by the Durga pooja in October.
Diwali is also observed in countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Thailand.
Check out the pictures of the celebrations here.