A Celebration Of Light That Warms The Ages

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Divali, a major Hindu religious festival in India, is celebrated over a five-day period from the 13th day of the dark half of the Hindu month Asvina to the second day of the light half of Karttika. (This year in the United States it is celebrated Nov. 10.)

Small lamps are placed along the parapets of temples and houses and set adrift on rivers. Fireworks are also part of this holiday, the origin of which varies region by region.

THE thousand-eyed night looks down to the Indian plains and sees its face reflected in a thousand lights - oil-burning clay divas set out in constellations along clay walls.

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A slender wrist, musical with bangles, shapes and pats, shapes and pats perfectly rounded, nutty, whole-wheat chapatis, then slaps them on the dung-fueled fire - so little of substance, so much to hope for.

A thousand clay lamps, a thousand lights leap, dance, and circle like a band of Rajputs - billowy turbans blooming like starfire roses and orange marigolds, scarlet, lavender, and flame.

Divali, the festival of lights - the burning of mustard-oil, the touch of cool clay, families gathering, exchanging gifts of sweets, wrapped in silver. The beat of a distant drum, the wending home of a horse-drawn cart, the dust rising like smoke on the Grand Trunk Road, the shimmering stars rimming bullock-plowed fields.

The triumph of good over evil - after a thousand years remains a victory worth celebrating with a thousand points of light or the light from a single humble clay lamp.

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