Diwali is celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains around the world. The festival marks the triumph of good over evil and the return of Hindu god Lord Rama to Ayodhya in northern India after 14 years in exile.
Known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali is celebrated with prayers, firework displays, vivid Indian floor art called Rangoli and the lighting of earthenware oil lamps (known as diyas) to invite Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth) into people's homes. It usually causes an increase in the air and noise pollution level as fireworks have remained a significant tradition of the festival. Legend says millions of lamps were lit when Lord Rama returned. It is believed that Lakshmi showers her blessings upon those homes that are clean and well lit.
Children play with fire crackers while celebrating Diwali, the annual festival of lights, in Mumbai Danish Siddiqui/Reuters A woman lights an earthen lamp in Amritsar in the northwestern Indian state of Punjab Narinder Nau/AFP A woman walks past shrines at the Shree Swaminarayan Mandir in Kingsbury, northwest London, during Diwali celebrations Rob Stothard/Getty Images A Hindu priest makes a blessing during the festival of Diwali at Shivm Kovi temple in Colombo, Sri Lanka Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters Baba 'Avtar' Singh, a Nihang (traditional Sikh religious warrior) wears an oversized turban at the Golden Temple in Amritsar Narinder Nanu/AFP Sikh devotees pay their respects at the illuminated Golden Temple in Amritsar on the occasion of Bandi Chhor Divas (Prisoner Release Day) which coincides with Diwali Narinder Nanu/AFP A cow is adorned with garlands and smeared with vermilion powder during a religious ceremony in Kathmandu, Nepal Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters A boy crawls under a cow during a religious ceremony celebrating Diwali, or Tihar, in Kathmandu, Nepal Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters Children celebrate Diwali with sparklers in Karachi Asif Haasan/AFP Hindus celebrate Diwali in Karachi, Pakistan Asif Hassan/AFP People light firecrackers during celebrations of Diwali, the festival of lights, in Siliguri, West Bengal Diptendu Dutta/AFP Pakistani minority Hindus celebrate Diwali with fireworks in Lahore Arif Ali/AFP People watch fireworks outside their home to celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights, in Allahabad Sanjay Kanojia/AFP An Indian roadside shopkeeper lights candles on his cart after performing a puja to celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights, in Allahabad Sanjay Kanojia/AFP The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building is illuminated during a special "muhurat" trading session for Diwali Shailesh Andrade/Reuters Indian businessmen prepare their record-keeping books as part of a ritual to worship the Hindu deity of wealth goddess Lakshmi on Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, in Ahmedabad Amit Dave/Reuters Athletes watch fireworks at the Madan Mohan Malviya stadium in Allahabad on the eve of the Hindu festival of Diwali Sanjay Kanojia/AFP A street vendor in Kathmandu spreads vermilion powder used for worship during Diwali (known in Nepal as Tihar) Sri Lankan Tamil devotees pray during the Hindu festival of Diwali at Shivm Kovi temple in Colombo Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters A boy stands in between garlands for sale along the streets of Kathmandu during the Tihar festival, also called Diwali Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters Customers shop for decorative garlands in Jalandhar in the northwestern India state of Punjab Shammi Mehra/AFP Widows who have been abandoned by their families hold earthen oil lamps as they offer prayers on the banks of the river Yamuna in Vrindavan, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh KK Arora/Reuters A woman holds a sparkler on the eve of Diwali in Hyderabad, India Noah Seelam/AFP