NEW YORK (PIX11) — Diwali, which is celebrated by more than one billion people around the world, is celebrated by more than 200,000 in our area.

The holiday, also known as the Festival of Lights, symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. It’s a five-day festival that follows the lunar calendar and stretches back more than 2,500 years.

Host Anita Trahan held a special Diwali brunch in her lower Manhattan apartment on Sunday to celebrate one of the oldest festivals of Hinduism.

“It is based on the mythological story with the god Rama exiled by his stepmother,” Trehan, a chef who created the now-closed Indian restaurant in Harlem, Chaiwali,  told PIX11 News. “After more than [14] years, he comes back and people are filled with hope and that’s what Diwali lights symbolize.”

To celebrate Divali in 2022, people dressed up in glittery sparkly clothes and ate celebratory, vegetarian food, potatoes and chickpeas, cooked with flavorings and tamarind and a festive salad with pomegranates and many, many sweets. It is all about joy and family, friends and food.

“The Indians do it in a big way,” Rishi Bali, one of the guests celebrating Diwali, told PIX11 News.  “It’s Christmas and New Year’s all wrapped into one and generally the high holidays. Diwali is five nights is how I explain it to people.”

Many people at Sunday’s Diwali brunch were pleased with Mayor Eric Adam’s decision to make Diwali a New York City school holiday in 2023 since it is a holiday celebrated by more than a billion people the world over.

“It is a time to be with friends and family,”  Judi Kilachand, a Diwali celebrant told PIX11 News. “I just got back from Bombay where people were buying new clothes, people spend time buying gifts for friends and family. It’s a wonderful occasion.”

It’s a five-day festival for some, but others celebrate Diwali for an entire month.