[Diya or oil lamp]
|[Clay pots are filled with vegetable oil or ghee and a wick is placed inside]|
Divali, known as Diwali, Devali, and Deepavali may possibly be considered the most important holiday amongst Hindus. Divali means: Row of lighted lamps. Candles and oil lamps are lit to burn off evil and welcome to Laksmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. In India, if someone is wealthy it's often considered to be a reward for good deeds they have done in a past lives.
|[Laksmi - Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity]|
In an effort to welcome the Goddess, homes are cleaned, and sometimes even painted (as in the case of my neighbor) in preparation. Special sweets are prepared that you often can't find any other time during the year. New clothes will be purchased and worn and special prayers said. The objective is the offer special prayers of thanks to Laksmi for the riches you incurred in the past year and to pray for riches in the coming year.
Fireworks are also a big part of the celebration. Not only can you buy just about anything to blast off on your own, but villages put on their own displays that go on for several nights The streets are littered with firecracker wrappers and sparkler sticks in the days leading up to and following Divali. No one is immune from the celebrations happening and it's a festive atmosphere everywhere you turn.