It is late autumn in India, the day before Diwali, or the Festival of Lights. In many homes, the children are busy making special holiday lamps. They fill little clay bowls with mustard oil. Into the oil, they put a little wick made of cotton. These lamps are a very important part of Diwali. They are lit on the fourth day of this five-day festival.

In preparation for the holiday, families hang garlands of flowers over the door and prepare sweet cakes and biscuits.

The next day – Diwali – everyone gets up early. The day is spent visiting relatives. There are lots of good things to eat and gifts to be exchanged. There may also be a visit to a street fair, where the children can go on rides and watch fireworks.

Before sunset, each family sets out its Diwali lamps. All over the countryside the little lights glow, like stars brought down from the sky.

According to Hindu beliefs, the Diwali lamps will help guide Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and good luck. She will fly down to Earth and visit each house where the lamps are twinkling. After her visit, the family in that house will be blessed with good luck for a whole year.

For many who practise the Hindu religion, Diwali is the first day of the New Year. Diwali means “rows of lights”. Hindus in Malaysia and other parts of the world also celebrate the Festival of lights.

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