Wednesday, October 26, 2011

a girl squats to light

a girl squats to light
dipas on a rangoli
shaped like a lotus

Diwali, the festival of lights, is being celebrated by Hindus around the world today. According to the lunar vedic calendar, the festival takes place during the new moon night between mid-October and mid-November, and this year it falls on 26 October. In India it marks the end of harvest, and farmers give thanks for this year's bounty and pray for a good harvest next year. Diwali derives from the Sanskrit word Dipavali, which means a row of lamps. People light dipas, small clay lamps filled with ghee, to signify the victory of light over darkness. The lamps are kept burning all night to welcome Mahalakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. In preparation for the festival, people clean and decorate their homes with rangoli, patterns made from colored powder on the floor, kandil, colorful paper lanterns, and malas, garlands of marigolds. On the day of the festival, they wear new clothes, give gifts of sweets to family and friends, and recite prayers to Ganesh, the god of auspicious beginnings, and Mahalaksmi, the benevolent granter of desires.

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