Hindu Diwali Festival Lights Up Cities Worldwide

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Diwali, the vibrant Hindu festival of lights, kicked off Sunday as thousands celebrated across the world, illuminating skies with sparklers, flickering candles, fireworks, and oil lamps.

The luminous five-day festival, derived from the Sanskrit word Deepavali or “row of lights,” honors the triumph of good over evil, light over dark, and knowledge over ignorance. The Hindu holiday is significant for several reasons, but pays tribute to the Hindu god Rama’s return to his kingdom after 14 years in exile and defeat of the demon king Ravana in the ancient Sanskrit text Ramayana.

The internationally recognized festival is an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, Guyana, Fiji, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. Diwali is celebrated by Hindu, Sikh, and Jain communities.

The festival begins on Dhanteras, when most Indian businesses mark the beginning of their financial year. Families decorate their homes with oil lanterns and diyas, or tiny candle bulbs, rangolis, or bright floral designs, to worship Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth. Eating sweets, exchanging gifts and wearing new clothes are practiced throughout the multi-day fete.

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