Hindus around the world are celebrating the festival of Deepavali.
By
Naomi Selvaratnam

Source
World News Radio
UPDATED 9:15 PM - 21 Oct 2013

(Transcript from World News Australia Radio)

Hindus around the world are celebrating the festival of Deepavali.

The holiday is one of the most important events in Hindu and South Asian culture, and is growing in popularity in Australia.

Naomi Selvaratnam has the details.

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It's a festival of lights, food and family.

Deepavali, as it is best known in South India, or Diwali in the North, is Sanskrit for "row of lights" and marks the victory of light over darkness.

It has many different meanings, but is most commonly believed to celebrate the return of the Hindu God, Rama after 14 years of exile, and to honour the Hindu Goddess of Prosperity, Lakshmi.

To mark the event, families light lamps as a symbol of welcome.

Neena Sinha is hosting Deepavali celebrations in the suburb of Strathfield in Sydney this year.

She says Deepavali is the most important event of the year for her family.

"It signifies the victory of good over evil. It is celebrated because Lord Rama came back. And so everybody is happy. We light up the lamps, and we do firecrackers, and make sweets and have merriment."

This year, Deepavali officially begins on November 3.

However celebrations are already underway across India and South Asian communities elsewhere in the world.

Neena Sinha says the five day-long event is usually spent with family.

"It's like Christmas, Deepavali is a festival of joy and happiness and togetherness. And getting the family and friends together and sharing with each other fun, laughter and sweets and food."

And in Australia, at least, Deepavali is even drawing in some non-Hindu participants.

Ilana Gamza began celebrating Deepavali after learning about the festival through her friends.

"Love the music, love the atmosphere. And I knew from my Indian friends about the festival happening so I just wanted to participate."

And the festival is always popular among children.

"(What do you like most about Deepavali?) I like when we do the sparks and we light the lights in the houses/ I like the sweets and all the decorations/ The really cultural dances and all the fun food."

Neena Sinha says she has seen the popularity of Deepavali grow during her time in Australia.

"We came to Australia about 35, 36 years back. That time there weren't many people of Indian sub-continental background. Now there are quite a few. So as years went by we had more Indians coming and more other Sri Lankans or Pakistanis, or Fiji people we started celebrating Deepavali more and more. Associations formed and they started having an annual function of Deepavali."