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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 October, 2003, 14:24 GMT
Communities celebrate Diwali
The goddess Laxmi
Laxmi is the goddess of wealth, prosperity and good luck
Members of the Hindu, Jain and Sikh communities are celebrating the religious festival of Diwali.

Diwali marks the start of the Hindu New Year and is also a time to pray to the goddess of wealth, Laxmi, for good fortune.

On Friday more than 150 people attended a ceremony at Caerphilly, south Wales, to worship the goddess Kali.

The event marked the first day of the religious festival, one of the most important of the year for Hindus, Jains and Sikhs.

And the festivities will culminate when more than 300 members of the Wales Puja Committee meet at Caerphilly's Penyrheol Community Centre next Saturday.

People celebrate Diwali by giving gifts and making sure there are plenty of lights in homes to celebrate the Hindu New Year
Sankar Das, Wales Puja committee

Diwali, known as the Hindu festival of lights, involves worship, fireworks, music and dance.

Lord Rama

An estimated one billion Hindus and millions of Sikhs around the world will be celebrating Diwali during the week.

"Although Diwali is celebrated in India this weekend we have decided to hold our celebrations next Saturday," said Dr Sankar Das, chairman of the Wales Puja Committee, a charity that has organised cultural events for the last 30 years.

"People celebrate Diwali by giving gifts and making sure there are plenty of lights in homes to celebrate the Hindu New Year."

The legend behind Diwali centres on Lord Rama's return to the capital of his kingdom Ayodhya after a 14-year exile.

He returned in triumph after destroying the demon Ravana, who had captured Rama's wife Sita.

The victory is celebrated by firecrackers and lights to signify the triumph of good over evil.

Families often light clay lamps with wicks, called divas, which they place in their houses and gardens.

The Jains mark the attainment of nirvana by one of their leaders, Mahaaveera while the Sikhs celebrate the return of guru Hargovindji to Amritsar after his release from imprisonment by Moghul ruler Jehangir.

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