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Millions of Hindus all around the world celebrated the annual multi-day festival of Diwali over the last few days. From India to Nepal and Malaysia, from the UK to the US and Australia, Hindus everywhere revere this time as the most important Hindu festival of the year. Known as the Festival of Lights, this is a time of year especially dedicated to Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth.

Diwali is celebrated with lights, candles, prayer, colorful fireworks and festive meals. In India, Diwali takes place when the monsoon season ends, generally around the end of October when the heat of the summer has dissipated. Traditions and preparation includes cleaning the home, paying off debts, making or buying new clothes, and making offerings.

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A young Nepalese Hindu priest worshipping a cow during the Cow Festival as the procession of Tihar or Deepawali-Diwali celebrations at Kathmandu, Nepal on Sunday, October 30, 2016.

Tihar is a Hindu festival that is celebrated in Nepal for 5 days. Cows are considered to be the incarnation of the Hindu god of wealth, Lord Laxmi. Nepalese devotees decorate the cows with marigold flower garlands and colored powders and offer the cows fresh fruits and vegetables.

An Indian Sikh ‘Nihang’, a traditional Sikh warrior known as Baba ‘Avtar’ Singh, wears an over-sized 650 meter-long turban during a Fateh Divas celebration which takes place the day after the Diwali festival, in Amritsar on October 31, 2016.

The Sikh community celebrates the return of the sixth Guru Hargobind from detention in the Gwalior Fort, known as Bandi Chhorh Divas. The day coincides with the Hindu festival of Diwali, and marks the day Guru Hargobind had agreed to his release on the condition that the other fifty-two vassal kings who were detainees would also be released.

Dancer Vimi Solanki waits to perform on stage as Lord Krishna during the Hindu festival of Diwali in Leicester, United Kingdom.

Up to 35,000 people attended the Diwali festival of light in Leicester’s Golden Mile in the heart of the city’s Asian community. The festival is an opportunity for Hindus, Sikhs and Jains to honor Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and other gods. Leicester’s celebrations are one of the biggest in the world outside India.

Newari Girls in a traditional attire participate in the parade of Nhu Dan (the Newari New Year), which falls on Tihar, or Deepawali-Diwali Festival of Lights at Kirtipur, Kathmandu, Nepal on Monday, October 31, 2016.

The Newar community in Nepal observes the start of their Newari New Year 1137.

Two members of the Indian Sikh ‘Nihang’ – the traditional Sikh army – balance on four horses as they demonstrate their skills during a Fateh Divas celebration which takes place the day after the Diwali festival, in Amritsar on October 31, 2016.

Fireworks explode as Indians celebrate the annual festival of Diwali October 30, 2016 in Mumbai, India.

Diwali, the festival of lights, is one of Hinduism’s most important festivals dedicated to Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth.

One of the after-effects of the Diwali celebrations is the air pollution and smog caused by fire crackers. Each year, cities across India suffer from several days of severe deterioration of the air quality, as measured by the Air Quality Index.  Air quality in the Capital spike as much as 23 times higher than normal, and experts say these particulate matters are far above the permissible limits, and extremely dangerous for people suffering from asthma and other respiratory and cardiac problems, particularly for children and the elderly.

Nepalese street vendor making marigold flower garlands for the offering towards goddess Laxmi during Laxmi Puja as the procession of Tihar or Deepawali and Diwali celebrations at Kathmandu, Nepal on Sunday, October 30, 2016.

Tihar is a Hindu festival celebrated in Nepal for 5 days. Cows are considered to be the incarnation of the Hindu god of wealth, Lord Laxmi.

An illuminated view of Jal Mahal ‘Water Palace’ at Mansagar lake on the occasion of Diwali Festival in Jaipur, India, Oct 30,2016.

Diwali (Deepawali) is the biggest and the brightest festival in India. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness.

Women light earthen lamps ‘ Diyas’ at Ramchandran Ji Temple on the occasion of Diwali Festival in Jaipur, India, Oct 30,2016.

Houses are whitewashed and illuminated and homes and courtyards are often decorated with elaborate designs drawn in white rice flour and filled in with color. illuminated with oil-burning bowls called dipa lights, or more recently, with strings of artificial lights. The Diwali celebration is time of great festivity, with people spending time at parties, and visiting and celebrating with friends and family.

 

A view of the Sheth Hutheesing Haveli illuminated for the Diwali holiday in Ahmedabad on October 28, 2016.

The Sheth Hutheesing Haveli is over a 100 years old and has been decorated and illuminated ahead of Diwali festivities.

A Bangladeshi Hindu girl holds an oil lamp during the ‘Deep Utsav or Light festival’ ahead of the Diwali festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on October 29, 2016.

Diwali also known as Deepavali and the ”festival of lights”, is an ancient Hindu festival. Diwali, marks the homecoming of the God Lord Ram after vanquishing the demon king Ravana and symbolizes taking people from darkness to light and the victory of good over evil.

Hindu dancers are posed during the Diwali celebrations on October 29, 2016 in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Malaysia Little India in Brickfields here took on a festive air as Malaysians of various races and from all walks of life came together to celebrate Deepavali at an open house organised by the Peoples Progressive Party.

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A young performer poses at the annual Diwali Festival at Auckland’s Britomart Centre in Australia.

 

A Nepalese policemen applies vermillion and flower garlands to a police dog during an event to mark the Tihar festival at the Central Police Dog Training School in Kathmandu on October 29, 2016.

Tihar, as the Hindu festival of Diwali is known locally, sees Nepalese offering blessings to dogs, which according to Hindu tradition are the messengers of Yamraj, the god of death.

A Sri Lankan Hindu devotee holds an oil lamp while offering prayers during Diwali, the Festival of Lights, at a temple in Colombo on October 29, 2016.

The Hindu Festival of Lights, Diwali marks the homecoming of the god Lord Ram after vanquishing the demon king Ravana, and symbolizes taking people from darkness to light in the victory of good over evil.

Indian Bollywood and Telugu actress Payal Ghosh poses with diyas, or oil lamps, during Diwali celebrations in Mumbai on October 29, 2016.

The Hindu Festival of Lights, Diwali marks the homecoming of the god Lord Ram after vanquishing the demon king Ravana, and symbolizes taking people from darkness to light in the victory of good over evil.

Indian girls light earthen lamps on a rangoli as they celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights, in Guwahati on October 29, 2016.

The Hindu Festival of Lights, Diwali marks the homecoming of the god Lord Ram after vanquishing the demon king Ravana, and symbolizes taking people from darkness to light in the victory of good over evil.