MILLIONS throughout the world will join in the celebration of Diwali, the festival of lights, which symbolises the triumph of light over darkness - of good over evil.In South Africa it is a one-day celebration which this year falls on Thursday October 19. In India, Diwali takes place over five days. Each day of the festival has a different meaning:First day, Dhanteras, marks the start of Diwali and is dedicated to celebrating wealth – gold is bought on this day. Homes are cleaned and readied to welcome Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity. Goddess Lakshmi is said to have been created from the churning of the ocean on the main Diwali day, and that she visits every home during the five days bringing prosperity and good fortune. The second day is known as Naraka Chaturdasi. Rangoli is created in doorways and courtyards of homes, Lord Krishna and Goddess Kali are believed to have destroyed the demon Narakasura and freed 16 000 captive princesses on this day. On the third and main day, lots of small clay lamps and candles are lit and placed in houses. Families gather together and give each other gifts and sweets. On the fourth day, merchants open fresh accounts for the new year and offer prayers.The fifth and last day, known as Bhai Duj, is dedicated to celebrating sisters. Brothers and sisters get together and share food, to honour the bond between them.There are different beliefs as to why Diwali is celebrated. In North India, it is believed to commemorate the victory of Lord Rama over the evil demon King Ravana and his return home after an exile of 14 years, whereas in the South, people celebrate the day to mark the victory of Lord Krishna over Narakasura. In eastern states, especially Bengal, the day is venerated as a day on which the fierce Goddess Kali vanquished the demon named Bakasura. An important feature of the Festival of Lights is the lighting of traditionally handmade earthern lamps, which were filled with oil and a wick and are placed in, around and outside the house.Houses are decorated with strings of lights – colourful and vibrant traditional motifs, known as rangolis, are drawn at the doorways using coloured powder or flower petals.Presenting Diwali gifts to one’s friends, family and acquaintances is one of the most important traditions of the festival. . As per Hindu mythology, it is believed that playing dice on the day of Diwali is very auspicious, the reason behind it being the legend which claims, on this day, once Goddess Parvati played dice with her husband Lord Shiva and enjoyed the game thoroughly. Delighted, she declared that “whosoever plays dice on this day shall be bestowed with a good fortune throughout the year”. Happy Diwali to all celebrating this festival with the message that good triumphs over evil and brightness over darkness.