The Indian festival of lights, Diwali (dhi-vaa-lee), also called Deepavali (dheep-aava-lee), is a celebration of the triumph of light over dark or symbolically, good over evil, prosperity over adversity. There are many legends and rituals associated with the festival depending on which part of India you visit, but chief among them is the veneration of the Hindu goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. Businessmen and traders use this auspicious occasion to open fresh account books and begin new ventures as it is believed that the day’s luck will sustain through the coming year. In the week preceding the festival, even the humblest of homes, like the one from Udaipur in the picture, are dusted and cleaned, whitewashed and decorated with wall paints and murals. On the night of Diwali, oil lamps and serial lights illuminate newly painted windows and balconies to usher in goddess Lakshmi.
An edited version of the article was published in Culturama's November 2012 Issue.