The day also commemorated the homecoming of King Rama of Ayodhya, after a 14-year exile in the forest, and thus the people of Ayodhya (the capital of his kingdom) welcomed him back by lighting up rows of lamps (deepa-wali), thus its name, Deepawali, or simply shortened as Divali.
The celebrations focus on lights and lamps, particularly traditional dīpa or deeya (earthen lamp), and fireworks. Though colloquially called Divali in North India, in South India it is called Deepavali.
Divali is celebrated for five consecutive days at the end of Hindu month of Ashwayuja (amanta). It usually occurs in October/November, and is one of the most popular and eagerly awaited festivals in India. Divali comes exactly twenty days after Dussehra. Hindus, Jains and Sikhs alike regard it as a celebration of life and use the occasion to strengthen family and social relationships. For Hindus it is one of the most important festivals, and beginning of the year in some Hindu calendars, especially in North India.
There are several beliefs regarding the origin of the holiday. The most repeated version is that Hindus celebrate Divali to mark the time when Lord Rama achieved victory over Ravana. Some also view it as the day Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura or in honor of the day Bali went to rule the nether-world, obeying the order of Vishnu. In Jainism it marks the nirvana of Lord Mahavira, which occurred on Oct. 15, 527 B.C. It is also a significant festival for the Sikh faith. In India, Divali is now considered to be more of a national festival, and the aesthetic aspect of the festival is enjoyed by most Indians regardless of faith