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Diwali or Deepawali, the festival of lights is celebrated with vigor and enthusiasm all over India.  it is celebrated in the neighbour countries also. Deepavali is a government holiday.  All public and private organizations (small or big) close in the evening and the following morning.  "Deepawali" literally means a series of lights (from a wick lit with fire).  The wicks are made of cotton or cloth dipped in oil in a small earthen shallow cup).

   Deepawali is the festival celebrated in the evening.  It is a festival for Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and for all living in India.  The president and the prime minister address Indians in India and abroad and give them their wishes of prosperity.  The message is that Deewali is a day of victory of good over evil.

    What ever the reason behind it be, all people celebrate with a lot of enthusiasm.  Newly married couples visit their in-laws. Children and adults alike, all fire crackers for hours in the evening after its dark.  People spend of a lot of money on new clothes and on gift articles.  They clean houses and decorate them.  People clean their houses and then perform pooja over their vehicles and almirahs where they keep money.  Businessmen perform special poojas and prayers to Goddess Lakshmi Devi.  Many families cook a lot of sweets and other edibles at home for their children.  Children often celebrate it at their grand parents' during this day.  Many organization distribute sweets to their employees.  Some organizations pay some part of the annual bonus to their employees on the occasion.

    Making of crackers is a big industry with a big annual turnover.  The prices of crackers have soared in the last decade.  Hindus in different regions have different reasons for the celebration.  In the South of India people celebrate Deepawali on the day of new moon (Amavasya). It is the next day after Naraka Chaturdasi, when Satyabhama, wife of Lord Krishna (an incarnation of God Vishnu) killed Narakasura.  Narakasura was a daemon who had imprisoned many women and sages.  Narakasura was born to God Vishnu and Goddess Earth during his Varahavatar.

   Hindus in the North celebrate it as the victory of Rama over Raavana and for his home coming along with Sita and Lakshmana.  Merchants celebrate it and perform Puja of Goddess of money, Lakshmi, as it is the day when Lakshmi Devi chose God Vishnu as her husband and married him.  Jains celebrate because their guru and god and Mahavir attained moksha.  Sikhs celebrate because their sixth guru Gurgobing Singh was liberated from jail.

   The actual mythological history, set aside, people greet each other.  They enjoy it as an occasion to gather their wit, humour, strength and lost hope.  People burn their sorrow and gloom.

    There is an important side effect of Deewali.  It causes some environmental pollution due to emission of hot chemical gases into the air.  On the other hand, a lot of mosquitoes and insects in the surrounding area get killed due to the pungent smell from the smoke from fire crackers.  There is a movement among learned people who call for peaceful celebration of the festival with minimum amount of crackers and with a lot of lights.  After all, a festival is meant for bringing joy and prosperity to the children and adults all alike.

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