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India is an amalgamation of diverse cultures and celebrates Diwali in unique ways, across its length and breadth. Besides the common stories related to Diwali about the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya and welcoming Goddess Lakshmi, let us look at some other ways how this Festival of Light is celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, India and across the world. 1. In Maharashtra, people begin festivities by revering a cow and its calf to celebrate the pure bond of motherhood. 2. In Goa and South India, the focus of Diwali is on the destruction of demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna. Celebrations involve bathing in scented essential oils ending with a visit to the temple. 3. Jainism celebrates the nirvana or spiritual awakening of Lord Mahavira. 4. For Sikhs, it celebrates the day a major guru (6th guru, Guru Hargobind Singh) was freed from imprisonment. The foundation stone of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab was laid on Diwali, in 1577. 5. While most people in India worship Goddess Lakshmi on Diwali, the main day of the festival is widely celebrated as Kali Puja in Kolkata and West Bengal (as well as Odisha, Tripura and Assam). Some fun facts….. Competitions are held in every village and city in Goa, to see who can make the biggest and scariest effigy of the demon Narakasura which are burned at dawn on Narakasura Chaturdashi, the day before the main day of Diwali. Jaipur, Rajasthan has a competition for the best decorated market for Deepavali. In Eastern India, many leave the doors to their houses open with the belief that Goddess Lakshmi will grace their doorstep. In Varanasi, UP, for Dev Deepavali, celebrated two weeks after Diwali and coinciding with the Ganga Mahotsav cultural festival, the ghats (flight of steps leading to river Ganga) are lined with more than a million clay lamps. In Tamil Nadu, people consume a special medicine called Deepavali Lehiyam. Diwali is also a national holiday in some other countries around the world- Nepal, Guyana, Singapore, Surinam, Fiji, Malaysia, SriLanka, Myanmar and Mauritius.

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