Diwali is the Hindu New Year festival. It is the most important event in the Hindu calendar, beginning on the 15th day of the Hindu month, Kartika, and lasting for five days. The festival is an official holiday in many countries, including India, Fiji, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Singapore. Diwali is often known as the ‘Festival of Lights’ because at night, Hindus light up temples and homes with hundreds of diyas (lamps) to welcome Lakshmi, goddess of wealth and prosperity. Hindus believe that praying to Lakshmi will bring them good fortune in the coming year. Hindu’s also decorate their homes with colourful Rangoli patterns on the ground, in the hope that these will encourage Lakshmi to visit their homes. Traditionally these designs are painted onto the ground with a mixture of rice flour and water, or drawn with coloured powders.
The Story of Diwali Prince Rama had a beautiful wife called Sita. One day Sita was kidnapped by Ravana, a demon king with twenty arms and ten heads. As Sita was carried away in Ravana’s chariot, she left a trail of glittering jewellery for Prince Rama to follow in the hope that he would find her and rescue her. Prince Rama followed the trail until he met Hanuman, the Monkey King. Hanuman agreed to help find Sita and sent messages to all the monkeys in the world, who in turn asked for the help of the bears. An army of monkeys and bears set out in search of Sita, who they found imprisoned on an island. As there was no bridge to the island they had to build one themselves. When the other animals heard what happened, they rushed to help. Once the bridge was built, all the animals of the world marched across to fight a fierce battle against the evil Ravana. The battle ended when Prince Rama killed King Ravana with a magic arrow. The world rejoiced and, as Prince Rama and Sita began their long journey back to their land, people lit oil lamps to guide them on their way and welcome them back. From this time forth, Hindu people have lit lamps during Diwali to remind them that light triumphs over dark and good over evil.
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