Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is the festival of lights, a holiday celebrated by over one billion Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs in South Asia and around the world. For Hindus, it is the day that Rama, a figure in Hindu mythology, returned from his 14-year exile to his home in Ayodha. For Jains, adherents of the sage Mahavir, it commemorates the day that he attained Moksha, or enlightenment. Sikhs celebrate Diwali as the day that the guru Hargobind and 52 princes were released from prison by the Mughal Emperor Jehangir. To celebrate, people put up diyas, or lights, to commemorate the occasion. The celebration lasts five days, with fireworks, sweets, gift-giving, and family gatherings. Typically, Diwali is celebrated in late October through early November, depending on the lunar calendar.
Sri Lankan Hindus offer prayers during Diwali at a Hindu temple in Colombo on Oct. 26.