India Rings In Diwali Next Week October 24, 2013 By Caitlin Bradford Leave a Comment Photo credit: Ruben Garcia Jr. Light. Happiness. Sweets and shopping. Hundreds of millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains are eagerly preparing for next week’s opening festivities of Diwali, a five-day celebration of the coming New Year beginning Nov. 1. While the holiday is celebrated from Suriname to Singapore, revelry is spread widely throughout India, a country of more than 900 million Hindus. Experiences such as Diwali attract visitors the world over to India, making it the top destination of Passport Health clients. Find out what immunizations you may need for your trip to India. Check out these four facts about Diwali: 1 Celebrants light candles or oil-burning clay pots to display the victory of good over evil. The light is meant to distance evil spirits while bringing closer Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and beauty. 2 Firecrackers, popularly known in India only as crackers, are used to ignite excitement and fun during the holiday. In recent years, some have called for environmentally friendlier celebrations without the explosives. 3 Indian merchants close out business accounts for the prior year and open new accounts during Diwali. Shopkeepers also offer bargains, playing up the notion that Diwali is a celebration of wealth. Many people who observe it crowd stores, using the period to buy gold jewelry and other fine items. 4 Houses receive a deep cleaning. Laundry is done, papers and household goods are organized and rubbish is tossed – all to help welcome Lakshmi. Many Diwali observers create rangoli, designs of birds or shapes made of colorful powders, outside their houses to welcome Lakshmi. Materials include chalk powder, sand and rice.