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Diwali: A day of celebration

Today marks Diwali, the "festival of lights" in the Hindu tradition. This holiday has come to take on varied meanings around the world, with significant differences in custom depending on the region of India in which the holiday is being celebrated.

However, one common theme runs strongly throughout the holiday: family. Families who celebrate this holiday often gather and partake in sweets and other delicious treats. Lighting fireworks is another common practice to celebrate Diwali. And of course, the "festival of lights" is ultimately based around the ceremonial lighting of oil lamps. Even families who are separated across the world often send money to each other in order to help with the celebrations and use on gifts.

Diwali has come to signify many other virtues and occasions as well. It marks the beginning of the new year on the Hindu calendar, and is typically seen as the end of harvest season for agricultural workers. Many also assign religious meaning to the holiday, often involving the events surrounding the many gods in the Hindu pantheon. Depending on the region and sect of Hinduism, the story as to what exactly the day represents can vary. The most common meaning is that it marks the return of Rama, one of the avatars of Vishnu, to the kingdom of Ayodhya after his exile.

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