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Last Updated: Friday November 12 2004 14:45 GMT

How I celebrate Diwali

Me and my brother all dressed up!
It's party time! Diwali is the biggest festival in the Hindu calendar.

Nissa tells us how she celebrates the festival and also grabs her mum to find out what she used to do when she was Nissa's age.

"Diwali is the time of year when people all across the world celebrate the festival of light.

We light little lamps called diyas. We do this to welcome the god Rama and wife Sita back from the forest where he was sent for 14 years by his horrible stepmother to stop him from becoming ruler.

We eat special Indian sweets called burfi (yum!) and send Diwali greeting cards to show we are thinking of our family and friends.

Diwali facts
Diwali means 'row of lights'
Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, is worshipped as the bringer of blessings for the new year
The festival lasts for five days
It is also celebrated by Jains and Sikhs

As it's the festival of light we often have big firework displays, which are a lot of fun! The whole family gets together, eats a huge vegetarian meal then goes out for the fireworks. All the children get very excited, the women cook and the men sit and chat - typical!

There are lots of differences between the way we celebrate Diwali in the UK and how my mum did when she was younger...

Mum's Diwali

My mum would wake up early and have a bath, it was important to be clean (to wash away her yearly sins), the week before her dad had bought the family new clothes, which she had to save for the special day.

Me, my bro and my mum
She would get changed and go to the temple (as it was a national holiday).

Also my mum would paint the doorstep in special coloured powder for good luck, it was symbolic like a Christmas tree.

Nissa's Diwali

I wake up as usual and go to school. It's just like a usual day for me, as we don't have a holiday (worse luck!)

When I get home I wait for it to get dark, then we light our diyas. Sometimes my dad will get us some sparklers on his way home from work and we will do them in the garden.

On Diwali my mum usually cooks Indian food, as it is traditional.

As we can't always celebrate properly in the week we normally have family round at the weekend. They bring fireworks and we have a display in our garden.

We eat a really big dinner (food is an important part) and enjoy each other's company.

My favourite part of Diwali is spending time with my family."

Nissa, 14, Kenilworth

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