13/11/2012 04:46 GMT

Happy Diwali! Sikh, Hindus And Jains Celebrate The Festival Of Lights (PICTURES)

Diwali, also known as the "festival of lights", is being celebrated across the world by Sikhs, Hindus and Jains.

Lamps are lit to symbolise the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness, fireworks are let off, and families share sweets as part of the celebrations.


Lights are lit to symbolise the triumph of good over evil

Lasting over several days, the festival has a special significance for each of these religions and celebrated in different ways.

For Hindus it is one of the most significant festivals of the year, signalling the start of the new year and is a chance to offer thanks to the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi.


Fireworks are let off over Diwali

Considered a lucky time of the year to buy gold, prices for the precious metal are pushed higher around this time as large number of people make use of the auspicious festival.

Small earthenware lamps are lit to, windows and doors flung open and houses are cleaned to make Lakshmi feel welcome in their homes.


The Golden Temple in Amritsar

Sikhs celebrate the release of the sixth Guru Hargobind Ji, who was freed from imprisonment and also managed to release 52 political prisoners at the same time in 1619. The Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib) in Amritsar is lit with thousands of lights during Diwali as Sikhs pay tribute.

The festival of lights has special significance for Jains as it believed to be the day in 527 BCE that Indian sage Mahavira gave his last teachings thus achieving ultimate liberation. Some strict Jains even fast in tribute to the holy man.

Thousands of people are expected to gather in Leicester city centre later on Tuesday in one of the largest celebrations of Diwali outside India.