Today marks the beginning of the five-day festival of Diwali
, one of the most important festivals in the Hindu, Jain and Sikh faiths. It's often known as the Festival of Lights because lanterns figure prominently in celebrations.
The different religions have different stories attached to the festival.
For Hindus, the festival marks the return of Lord Rama from 14 years of
exile after slaying a demon. Jains commemorate the spiritual
enlightenment of the sage who founded Jainism. And Sikhs celebrate the
return of one of their gurus from freeing 52 imprisoned kings.
All the faiths light lamps, which symbolize the triumph of light over
dark and good over evil. Celebrations throughout India will include
fireworks and firecrackers. Sweets are exchanged as symbols of
prosperity, and it's common to wear new clothes.
Here in St. Louis, there are celebration aplenty including several days of shows at Washington University
with dance and fashion and the cultural group St. Louis Marathi Mandal
is hosting a dinner and snack contest tomorrow night.