Diwali, meaning ‘festival of lights’, is the most widely celebrated festival in India. Not only Hindus observe Diwali but also Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs. The central theme is derived from the epic Ramayana, but the festival also marks the Hindu New Year’s Eve.
After defeating Ravana, Rama, Lakshman, Sita, Hanuman and all the monkey warriors triumphantly returned to the city of Ayodhya so that Rama could claim the throne. Whey they returned in a flying chariot covered with flowers, it was the new moon night: pitch black. All the people, therefore, lit the way for the returning troops by hanging lamps, candles and fires along the route. In Ayodhya, they were greeted with millions of lights and fireworks. On this day, devotees remember how light will always triumph over darkness.
During Diwali people have elaborate firework displays. Also practiced at Diwali is the exchange of gifts, the distribution of Indian sweets, and new decorations for the home and new clothes for the family. At New Vrindaban, all these things are observed, as well as drama and dance.