Diwali 2022: What is the famous festival of lights and how can you take part?

Diwali lasts for five days, marking the start of the Hindu New Year Credit: PA Images

Diwali, known as the festival of lights, is a major event celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, as-well as some Buddhists.

The festival kicked off this year on Sunday 9 October, with Leicester's famous Golden Mile lights switch-on.

The celebrations culminate in a stunning fireworks display and live entertainment on Diwali Day - Monday 24 October.

Diwali lasts for five days, marking the start of the Hindu New Year.

The exact dates change each year and are determined by the position of the moon – but it usually falls between October and November.

People cheer in Leicester at the start of Diwali Credit: PA Images

What is the festival about?

Diwali celebrates the triumph of good over evil as well as knowledge over ignorance.

It also marks a new beginning symbolised by the arrival of a new moon.

The festival is significant for various reasons according to the different faiths participating:


For Hindus, it marks the diety Rama and his wife Sita's eventual defeat of the evil spirit Ravana and celebrates their triumphant return to their kingdom in Ayodhya after a 14-year exile.

The story narrates that oil lamps were lit by passers by to guide them on their way home and to rejoice in their victory.

The festival of Diwali also celebrates the day Mother Goddess Durga destroyed a demon called Mahisha.


For Sikhs, Diwali marks and celebrates the release of the sixth Guru, Hargobind Singh from a Mughal Empire prison in 1619.

However, Diwali was celebrated even prior to this.

In fact, the foundation stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar - which is the most holy place in the Sikh world, was laid on Diwali in 1577.


The founder of Jainism is Lord Mahavira. During Diwali, Jains celebrate the moment he reached a state called Moksha (nirvana, or eternal bliss - and freedom from the cycle of reincarnation).

It is said that the earth and the heavens were illuminated with lamps to mark the occasion of Lord Mahavira's enlightenment.

How is Diwali celebrated?

Children play with sparklers as people lay candles on their doorsteps during Dawali celebrations in Leicester. Credit: PA Images

In the lead up to Diwali, people prepare by cleaning and decorating their homes with (diwas) oil lamps and colourful patterns.

People traditionally wear their finest clothes, and illuminate the interior and exterior of their homes with lamps and art.

People on the golden mile in Leicester at the start of Diwali, a five day festival of lights. Credit: PA Images

They also attend worship ceremonies of Lakshmi - the goddess of prosperity and wealth, light fireworks and take part in family feasts.

People also eat mithai (sweets) and share gifts.

What is the Diwali lights 'switch-on'?

Earlier this month, thousands of people gathered at Leicester's Belgrave Road - known as the Golden Mile, for the annual lights switch-on event of 6,000 colourful lamps.

The city's famous Diwali celebration is one of the largest held outside of India, and is popular for its colourful lights, food and dancing.

The switch-on marked the first day of celebrations and featured a Wheel of Light, a Diwali Village and a stunning firework display.

It also was the first year since the pandemic that saw the return of on-stage performances, with music, arts and dance.

Leicester Council said crowds of up to 20,000 people from across the country attended the spectacular celebrations.

In a statement, Leicester’s deputy city mayor for culture, leisure and sport, Councillor Piara Singh Clair, said: “Our world-famous Diwali festival is a Leicester tradition that brings our communities together to celebrate the Festival of Light.

Diwali lights are switched on along Belgrave Road in Leicester to celebrate the beginning of the festival of light Credit: PA Images

“I am delighted that the event’s return for 2022 attracted so many people to enjoy the magic of one of the largest Diwali celebrations outside of India.” 

This year’s event was supported by the University of Leicester.

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University said: “I was honoured and humbled to switch on the Diwali lights on Leicester’s Golden Mile.

"It was a spectacular scene as Leicester rejoiced in its rich cultural heritage. I’m proud to be a part of the city and for the University of Leicester to support the festival.”

Where can you take part in Diwali Day Celebrations?

Belgrave Road will again be the focus of Leicester's Diwali Day celebrations on Monday 24 October.

The Golden Mile will be bathed in light for the festival period until the day which will see Diwali Village return to Cossington Street recreation ground from 3pm, along with live entertainment from 6pm.

Performers on the golden mile in Leicester at the start of Diwali Credit: PA Images

Also worth looking out for is Dundu, a giant illuminated puppet, as it parades through the crowds along with the fireworks which start at around 8.10pm.

The Wheel of Light, a 110-foot ferris wheel that provides a glittering centrepiece to the festivities, will be on Belgrave Road until Sunday 6 November.