Diwali is one of the most widely celebrated festivals in India. It symbolises the victory of good over evil, and new beginnings. Diwali is celebrated over a period of five days namely - Dhanteras, Narakachaturdashi, Diwali, Padhwa and Bhai Dhooj.
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Did you know that Diwali actually falls on the darkest night of the year? The new moon night of the month of Ashwin ( of the Hindu calender) which may arrive either in October or November ( of the Gregorian calender) is considered to be the darkest night of the year by the Hindus. The tradition of lighting lamps on this night may have come from the need for light on this intensely dark night.
Diwali also celebrates the abundance of the autumn harvest. The autumn harvest (kharif) of rice for example, accounts for 53 percent of total production. It is sown between March and August and harvested between June and December. Seventy per cent of India's population lives in villages, and a vast majority solely depends on agriculture. As a result most of the festivals are related to the agricultural activities of the people. Farmers get ready to thank god, earth and their cattle for the wonderful harvest and celebrate the occasion with joyous festivities and rituals.
In Nepal, the first two days of Diwali are celebrated by worshipping animals. On the first day, cows are given offerings, in appreciation of the food they have given and agricultural work they have performed. On the second day, dogs and all living animals are revered and offered special food.