Source: The Ledger
On November 2, 2002 The Ledger reported that "not far from the Washington Redskins football stadium, some 20,000 revelers packed into a cavernous sports center Oct. 26 to ring in the Hindu New Year with singing, dancing and shopping. Diwali, the four-day "festival of lights" that begins Monday this year, is an occasion to exchange gifts, light rows of oil lamps and set off firecrackers. Though Diwali has its origins deep in the Hindu religion -- it marks Lord Rama's defeat of the demon Ravana -- in modern times, it has evolved into a national holiday celebrated by the majority of Indians, regardless of religion. The actual celebration on Monday generally takes place in homes and temples, while the Oct. 26 festivities were more like Christmas parties and public concerts or other pre-Christmas events. Over the past several years, a petition has circulated in the Indian-American community to make Diwali a national holiday in the United States, as it is in India, though even advocates admit that remains a long shot."