Diwali (also spelled Devali in certain regions) or Deepavali, popularly known as the "festival of lights," is a festival celebrated between mid-October and mid-November for different reasons. For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year and is celebrated in families by performing traditional activities together in their homes. For Jains, Diwali marks the attainment of moksha or nirvana by Mahavira in 527 BC.
Deepavali is an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore, and Fiji.
The name "Diwali" is a contraction of "Deepavali" (Sanskrit: दीपावली Dīpāvalī), which translates into "row of lamps". Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps (diyas or dīpas) in Sanskrit: दीप) filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. These lamps are kept on during the night and one's house is cleaned, both done in order to make the goddess Lakshmi feel welcome. Firecrackers are burst in order to drive away evil spirits.
This is an excerpt from a story posted at USA TODAY It seems the Diwali lights may not be quite what they seem! (Still, it's a great graphic!)
"The image carried the caption: "India at night during Diwali NASA."
"That's apparently all the proof many needed. The image was shared an untold number of times — at one count, it was well over 100,000 — with exultations such as "Amazing!" and "What a cool photo!"
"The image, made in 2003, is actually a composite of satellite images of India from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, according to Chris Elvidge, a physical scientist at NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center.
"The composite of cloud-free satellite images is intended to show population growth over time, Elvidge said. The white lights depict where populations were centered before 1992 and more colored lights were added in subsequent years to show the movement of people.
"The original poster appears to have been a single Facebook user near Hyderabad, whose post has been shared more than 87,000 times."
So....there you have it! :-)