Diwali / Deepawali
You don't have to be Hindu to have heard of Diwali. The festival of lights is the most celebrated festival in India, celebrated by many faiths as part of India's cultural heritage with each region contributing its own customs. Much like Christmas, friends, families and colleagues share gifts and the holiday it's marked by feasts which specially include different varieties of sweets.
The festival is actually a five day event and gets its name from "deepa" (small clay lamps) that are lit around the inside and outside homes to symbolize the light that protecting us from darkness.
On the first day of Diwali, people clean their homes and shop for gold. On the second, participants create ornate patterns with colored sand on their floors (Rangoli) and place deepa throughout their homes.
Then on the third, families gather for prayer, to break bread and light fireworks. The following day marks the new year and relatives visit with gifts and then on the last day, brothers visit their married sisters for another lavish meal.