Diwali - The Festival of Lights

November 13, 1999

Source: Omaha World-Herald

On November 13, 1999, the Omaha World-Herald published an article on the Hindu celebration of Diwali in Omaha, Nebraska. Diwali is a four-day holiday that marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year. The holiday denotes the end of the harvest season and it honors Lord Rama who, according to Hindu legend, vanquished the demon Ravana and returned from exile on the day known as Diwali. Oil lamps, fireworks, and candles are part of the Diwali celebration because it is said that the town was decorated with oil lamps to light Rama's way when he vanquished Ravana. Traditionally, the four days of the holiday each serve a different purpose. The first day is for family celebrations, the second is for businessmen to close their financial year, the third is for husbands and wives and is marked by gift giving, and the fourth is for brothers and sisters to renew their family ties. Nina Mote, who hosted a puja and dinner for 70 people with her husband at their Omaha home the previous weekend, stated: "In India, the whole country celebrates together...Here we are just a small group. We just make our friends and family."