The Dewali, or Feast of Lamps
Artist: Simpson, William (1823-1899)
This chromolithograph is taken from plate 50 of William Simpson's 'India: Ancient and Modern'. The picture is suffused with the yellow glow of lamps in the gathering dusk; a woman is pictured leaning to light a lamp in a little niche at a street corner.
Diwali, the Festival of Light, was marked ceremonially by the lighting of many such earthen lamps - diyas - all over India. The festival extended for five days during the lunar month of Kartika (October/November). It celebrated many things, such as the return of Rama and Sita from exile (as told in the Ramayana), the victory of Vishnu in avatar form over King Bali and minor deities such as Lakshmi, the goddess responsible for wealth and good fortune.