The lights of Diwali: From candles to lanterns to full-blown fireworks

Published 2:06 PM EDT, Fri November 1, 2013

Story highlights

Diwali, known as the Festival of Lights, is celebrated by by Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities

The festival has spread from India to become a global celebration

CNN iReporters captured dazzling Diwali parties from Guyana to Canada

(CNN) —  

Fireworks boom, bulbs flash, and flames flicker as tens of millions of people across the globe celebrate the beginning of the Festival of Lights.

Diwali – from the word Deepavali, meaning “row of lights” – is observed by Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities, who celebrate for five days in autumn to mark the victory of light over darkness.

This year, the festival begins on November 3, with splashes of color, lighting displays and blaring parties set to greet Diwali’s arrival.

Celebrated for centuries across much of the Indian subcontinent, Diwali is now exploding: spreading the promise of wealth, knowledge and happiness to new communities across the world.

From India

For the Diwali newcomer, photographer Roy del Vecchio expertly captures the outsider’s inauguration into the festival – snapping the delighted face of a man who had invited him to join the celebrations on his roof.

39-year-old del Vecchio says he had traveled to Rajasthan to see the festival, when the man holding the sparkler had invited to join him and his sons to light fireworks and share traditional sweets.

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Fireworks are said to drive away evil spirits and, at this time of year, many Hindus will also clean the house and light small oil-burning lanterns to attract Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth into the home.

But the celebration is anticipated with excitement by many across India – as well as neighboring Sri Lanka and Nepal – regardless of religious beliefs.

“I do celebrate Diwali, more for the spirit of the festival, rather than its religious implications,” says iReporter Samarjit Mazumdar from Bangalore, India.

To the World

Mazumdar captured one of Diwali’s traditional symbols: a Swastika assembled from marigold flowers, which symbolizes peace, the 32-year-old explains.

But this year’s celebrations are likely to be anything but peaceful, with an explosion of Diwali parties lighting up cities across the world.

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Recent years have seen Diwali parties pop up in locations from Ontario, Canada to Melbourne, Australia, where traditional Diwali celebrations mix with showcases for Indian food, music, dance, and film.

From Singapore’s Little India district to rural Somerset, UK, iReporters have sent pictures of Diwali lights shining out.

Meanwhile in Guyana, a huge motorcade rolls through the capital Georgetown – as captured by Guyana native Amanda Richards.

The country’s 200,000-strong Hindu population line the route and often wait for hours to see the parade pass by.

Richards says she’s already planning where she’ll go to wait for this year’s motorcade – and join the millions of others across the world hoping to catch a glimpse of the lights.