Diwali, or the Festival of Lights, probably is the best known Hindu festival. It also is celebrated by Sikhs and Jains.
Although the festival lasts for five days, Diwali is primarily celebrated on the third day, called Lakshmi Puja. According to the Hindu lunar calendar, Lakshmi Puja occurs on the 15th day of the month called Kartik. This year, the date was Nov. 13 on the common calendar.
The name Diwali itself comes from a Sanscrit word meaning "row of lights." The festival celebrates the homecoming of an esteemed king named Rama, as told in an epic story called Ramayana, which dates from the 3rd Century B.C.
Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world, after Christianity and Islam. There are more than 1 billion Hindus, with the largest concentration in India. There are more than 1 million Hindus in the United States.
You can learn more about Diwali from the Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India, the main source of the information presented here.