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Diwali

Diwali, the Festival of Lights, iscelebrated by Hindus all over the world. In 2017, Diwali celebrations will begin October 18 and last for several days. Spiritually, it signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. The history behind Diwali, also known as Deepavali, has several origins. First, it commemorates the death of Narakasura, a malevolent demon, at the hands of Lord Sri Krishna. Many also believe that Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, rose up from the ocean. Hindus across the world also celebrate Diwali to honor the return of Lord Rama, his wife, his brother and Lord Hanuman to Ayodhya from a 14-year exile after Rama defeated Ravana. The festival gets its name, Deepavali, from the rows (Avali) of lamps (Deepa) that the people of Ayodhya lit to welcome their king.

In preparation of Diwali, people clean, paint and decorate their homes, as it is a very auspicious day to welcome the goddess of wealth and prosperity to their homes. Homes are lit up with hundreds of oil lamps, called diyas. Colorful Diwali rangolis (artwork) adorn the doorways.

Typical Deepavali celebrations begin by waking up before sunrise and taking an oil bath. All members of the family perform the Lakshmi pooja, a prayer ritual. Fireworks follow pooja, then a family feast that includes sweets and exchanging Diwali greetings and gifts between family members and close friends. Deepavali is also a time of shopping in nations where it is celebrated. People buy new clothes for themselves and their families, as well as gifts, appliances, kitchen utensils and even expensive items such as cars and gold jewelry. Children also hear ancient stories, legends about battles between good and evil or light and darkness from their parents and elders. May you and your family have a happy Diwali! 

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