Lonely Planet Writer

Diwali 2016: see the Indian festival of light celebrated in pictures

A series of colourful and joyous events took place in various countries yesterday to mark Diwali (Deepawali), the Hindu festival of lights.

This occasion is a very important national festival in India, Nepal and Bangladesh among other countries, and it spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair.

Indian Sikh devotees lighting candles during Bandi Chhor Divas, or Diwali, at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Image: Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images
Indian Sikh devotees lighting candles during Bandi Chhor Divas, or Diwali, at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Image: Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images

An official holiday in many countries and one of the major festivals of Hinduism, Diwali celebrations see millions of lights shining in the communities and countries where it is observed, along with many other individual rituals and celebrations. On the same night that Hindus celebrate Diwali, Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas to mark the release of Guru Hargobind from a Mughal Empire prison, and Newar Buddhists, unlike the majority of Buddhists, celebrate Diwali by worshipping Lakshmi. Here are some of the most stunning images from this year’s celebrations, which took place yesterday.

Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Children light candles during traditional Diwali Light Balloon Festival in Kolkata. Photo: Suvankar Sen/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
Children light candles during traditional Diwali Light Balloon Festival in Kolkata. Photo: Suvankar Sen/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Children light candles during the traditional Diwali Light Balloon Festival in Kolkata. It is also an old tradition there to fly fanush, or paper-made hot air balloons, on the day of Kali Pujo, which took place this year the day before Diwali.

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Hindu women light oil lamps during the 'Deep Utsav or Light festival' ahead of the Diwali festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on October 29, 2016. Image: Zakir Hossain Chowdhury/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Hindu women light oil lamps during the ‘Deep Utsav or Light festival’ ahead of the Diwali festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Image: Zakir Hossain Chowdhury/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The two Hindu women are lighting oil lamps during the ‘Deep Utsav’ or light festival ahead of the Diwali festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Mumbai, India

A group of Indian youngsters take a selfie near lanterns during Diwali Shivaji Park, in Mumbai, India. Image: Pratham Gokhale/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
A group of Indian youngsters take a selfie near lanterns during Diwali at Shivaji Park, in Mumbai, India. Image: Pratham Gokhale/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

One of the most important celebrations in the country, a group of Indian youngsters take a selfie near lanterns during Diwali at Shivaji Park, in Mumbai, India.

Punjab, India

An Indian Sikh devotee bathes in holy water during Diwali at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Image: Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images
An Indian Sikh devotee bathes in holy water during Diwali at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Image: Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images

An Indian Sikh devotee bathes in the holy sarovar (water tank) during Diwali at the Golden Temple in Amritsar in Punjab, India, to mark the return of the sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji. He was freed from imprisonment and also managed to release 52 political prisoners at the same time from Gwalior fort held by Mughal Emperor Jahangir in 1619.

Jammu, India

An Indian man sets off firecrackers during a fireworks display at a local marketplace on the eve of Diwali festival in Jammu, India. Image: Stringer/AFP/Getty Images
An Indian man sets off firecrackers during a fireworks display at a local marketplace on the eve of Diwali festival in Jammu, India. Image: Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

An Indian man sets off firecrackers during a fireworks display at a local marketplace on the eve of Diwali festival in Jammu, India.

Kathmandu, Nepal

A young Nepalese hindu priest worshipping a cow during Tihar and Diwali celebrations at Kathmandu, Nepal. Image: Narayan Maharjan/NurPhoto via Getty Images
A young Nepalese hindu priest worshipping a cow during Tihar and Diwali celebrations at Kathmandu, Nepal. Image: Narayan Maharjan/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A young Nepalese hindu priest worshipping a cow during Tihar and Diwali celebrations at Kathmandu, Nepal. Cows are considered to be the incarnation of the Hindu god of wealth, Lord Laxmi, and Nepalese devotees decorate the cows with marigold flower garlands and coloured powders and offer them fresh fruits and vegetables.

Vrindavan, India

History was made when 1000 widows ushered in Diwali inside the centuries-old Gopinath Temple in Vrindavan. Image: Anil Kumar/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
History was made when 1000 widows ushered in Diwali inside the centuries-old Gopinath Temple in Vrindavan. Image: Anil Kumar/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

History was made when 1000 widows ushered in Diwali inside the centuries-old Gopinath Temple in Vrindavan, India, where they blew conch shells, lit candles, and showered flower petals and dry colour powders. This broke an old taboo, as for years, the widows were not allowed to celebrate the occasion inside.

Mumbai, India

Lanterns on display for sale for Diwali, the festival of lights in Mumbai, India. Image: Kunal Patil/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Lanterns on display for sale for Diwali, the festival of lights in Mumbai, India. Image: Kunal Patil/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

A father and his young child admire lanterns on display for sale for Diwali, the festival of lights in Mumbai, India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged citizens to use products made in India for the occasion, instead of foreign ones.

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Hindu people light oil lamps during the 'Deep Utsav or Light festival' ahead of the Diwali festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Image: Zakir Hossain Chowdhury/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Hindu people light oil lamps during the ‘Deep Utsav or Light festival’ ahead of the Diwali festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Image: Zakir Hossain Chowdhury/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

A family group of Hindu people light oil lamps during the ‘Deep Utsav or Light festival’ ahead of the Diwali festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Mumbai, India

A young girl holds a firecracker as Indians celebrate the annual festival of Diwali in Mumbai, India. Image: Allison Joyce/Getty Images
A young girl holds a firecracker as Indians celebrate the annual festival of Diwali in Mumbai, India. Image: Allison Joyce/Getty Images

A young girl gazes in wonder as she holds a firecracker as Indians celebrate the annual festival of Diwali in Mumbai, India.