Diwali in pictures: Indian holy city lights 1.5 million lamps to retain world record

People light lamps on the banks of the river Saryu in Ayodhya, India
People light lamps on the banks of the river Saryu in Ayodhya, India   -   Copyright  Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP Photo
By Theo Farrant  & AP

The north Indian city of Ayodhya retained its Guinness World Record by lighting over 1.5 million oil lamps and keeping them burning for 45 minutes, as part of the celebration of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.

Last year, the temple town lit 900,000 oil lamps (known as diyas), beating its prior record of 606,569 lamps in 2020. 

The stunning spectacle was attended by thousands of visitors who filled the banks of Sari River, as well as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

Thousands of city residents also lit lamps at their houses and temples.

What is Diwali?

Mahesh Kumar A/AP
Children light firecrackers to celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights, in Hyderabad, IndiaMahesh Kumar A/AP

Diwali (which comes from the Sanskrit word deepavali, meaning "rows of lighted lamps) is a festival of light celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and some Buddhists, across the world. 

It symbolises the triumph of good over evil, marking Hindu God Rama's return home after 14 years of exile, defeating the mythological demon Ravana and rescuing his abducted wife Sita.

Ayodhya is where Hindus believe the god Rama was born.

The festival is usually takes places between October and November, with the date changing each year.

This year Diwali takes places from 22 October to 26 October, with the main day of celebration on 24 October. 

Ajit Solanki/AP
Indian traders perform rituals during Chopda Pujan, a prayer ceremony dedicated to the worship of account books, on the occasion of DiwaliAjit Solanki/AP
Channi Anand/AP
Children watch firecrackers being lit on the eve of Diwali at an orphanage in Jammu, India,Channi Anand/AP
Rajesh Kumar Singh/ap
Spectators lift their phones to record a laser show on the life of Hindu God Ram in Ayodhya, IndiaRajesh Kumar Singh/ap
Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP
People light lamps on the banks of the river Saryu in Ayodhya, IndiaRajesh Kumar Singh/AP
Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP
Uttar Pradesh state Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath greets artists dressed as Hindu god Ram, goddess Sita and Lakshman on the banks of river SaryuRajesh Kumar Singh/AP

And with former finance minister Rishi Sunak, a practicing Hindu, set to become the UK's next prime minister, after winning the Conservative leadership election today, who knows if Great Britain's new PM will be lighting a candle outside Number 10 as he did outside Number 11 in 2020: 

AP Photo
UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak lit candles outside Number 11 Downing Street on Thursday night to mark the start of Diwali - 2020AP Photo

Video editor • Theo Farrant