By CBSNewYork Team

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is back.

The five-day holiday starts later this week, but festivities started early Saturday at the crossroads of the world.

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The Diwali at Times Square event in Midtown Manhattan has been taking place since 2013.

Last year, it was virtual because of the pandemic, but this year, the celebrations were back and bigger than ever.

The One Times Square tower was lit up Saturday evening as hundreds people showed up to the crossroads of the world to mark the beginning of Diwali.

The annual event featured music and dance numbers that showcased the different states of India, along with a performance by superstar Jay Sean.

A lamp-lighting ceremony also took place, followed by greetings by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

“We’re once again gathered in person to remind ourselves the real true meaning behind Diwali. To think about the fact that we can conquer darkness with light,” she said.

Also known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali is marked by more than a billion people around the world.

The five-day event is commemorated by various religions in India and in the diaspora, including Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists.

Attendees say it’s a time for family and love.

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“Indian music, feeling of being home and celebration. Also, food,” one person told CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon.

“It’s the biggest festival for Diwali, so they are enjoying with the dance and music,” another person said.

While groups celebrate for different reasons, there are several common themes, including the importance of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.

Organizers say this year, the celebrations have special meaning.

“After pandemic, we are here to uplift the spirit of people and we want to showcase this vibrant India and India’s culture, art and diversity to the world,” said Neeta Bhasin, founder of Diwali at Times Square.

Diwali’s main day of celebration is on Nov. 4, which is when revelers will light fireworks and fill their homes with oil lamps and candles. They’ll also hand out sweets, exchange gifts, spend time with loved ones and visit their places of worship.

For many, it is the most joyful time of the year.

“We make Rangolis and celebrate with different colors and lights,” one person said. “It means all happiness, togetherness with family.”

Organizers of the event in Times Square say they are wishing everyone in the Tri-State Area, in India and around the world a happy Diwali this week.

The festival concludes on Nov. 6.

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CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team