Happy Diwali: Festival of Lights underway

Krishna and Satyabhama fighting Narakasura's armies -Painting from the Metropolitan Museum

THE Indian Festival of Lights, Diwali or Deepavali, began yesterday (Tuesday) and is held over five days.

It is celebrated in a riot of colours and festive lights and many people dress as gods, others dance and exchange gifts and the faithful offer their prayers.

Diwali celebrates the victory of good over evil and light over darkness with religious significance for Hindus, Sikhs and Jains alike. It heralds the beginning of the new business year and honours the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. The lights are there to guide the goddess to the homes of her devotees, who leave their doors and windows open so she can enter their homes.

Lord Krishna is also remembered during this festival for defeating the demon king Narakasura and freeing 16,000 captive women.

Not only is this festival celebrated in India just after the monsoon season, but in countries with communities of Indians around the world.

As part of the festival, new clothes are donned and the home cleaned to welcome in the new year and prepare for an auspicious 12 months.

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