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Festival of the Month: Diwali

Thursday 4th November marks the start of Diwali - 'The Festival of Lights'. This festival (translated from the sanskrit 'dipavali' meaning 'rows of lights'), is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and even some Buddhists across the world, between October and November, based on the Hindu lunar calendar. Lights, candles, lamps (called 'diyas' or 'divas') and fireworks are all lit to represent light over darkness, and to celebrate Prince Rama and his wife, Princess Sita, returning to their home of Ayodhya in India after 14 years away, as told in the Hindu epic 'The Ramayana'. Throughout this festival, which lasts for 5 days, worshippers will also pray, sing, dance, decorate their homes with 'rangoli' (colourful designs and patterns made from sand rice and flower petals), exchange gifts and sweets (called mithai), wear new colourful clothes and feast with family and friends. It is a time of light, love, warmth and positive new beginnings, and so it also signifies the start of the Hindu new year. We would like to wish all those celebrating a very happy Diwali and invite you to share your experiences of the festival with us, if you would like.