AUSTRALIA, October 21, 2013 (SBS): Hindus around the world are celebrating the festival of Deepavali. The holiday is one of the most important events in Hindu and South Asian culture, and is growing in popularity in Australia. It's a festival of lights, food and family.
Deepavali, as it is best known in South India, or Diwali in the North, is Sanskrit for "row of lights" and marks the victory of light over darkness. It has many different meanings, but is most commonly believed to celebrate the return of the Hindu God, Rama after 14 years of exile, and to honor the Hindu Goddess of Prosperity, Lakshmi. To mark the event, families light lamps as a symbol of welcome.
Neena Sinha, who is hosting Deepavali celebrations in the suburb of Strathfield in Sydney, says the five day-long event is usually spent with family. "It's like Christmas, Deepavali is a festival of joy and happiness and togetherness. And getting the family and friends together and sharing with each other fun, laughter and sweets and food."
Neena Sinha says she has seen the popularity of Deepavali grow during her time in Australia. "We came to Australia about 35, 36 years back. That time there weren't many people of Indian subcontinental background. Now there are quite a few. So as years went by we had more Indians coming and more other Sri Lankans or Pakistanis, or Fiji people we started celebrating Deepavali more and more. Associations formed and they started having an annual function of Deepavali."
This year, Deepavali officially begins on November 3. However celebrations are already underway across India and South Asian communities elsewhere in the world.