My neighbours are Hindu, so we always have a close up show of their fireworks, set off by Ravi in their back garden. We also often hear a ring on the doorbell accompanied by a gift of samosas (which taste infintely better than the shop bought ones!).
The giving of gifts is one of the many customs which accompany this Hindu festival of light; a celebration based around a story of great courage, when the exiled prince Ram fought Ravana, the ten-headed demon king of Lanka, to rescue his beautiful wife Sita, who had been kidnapped. Helped by Hanuman and his army of monkeys, Ram and his brother Lakshman built a huge causeway over the sea from India to the island of Lanka. There, the two armies engaged in battle, until Ravana was finally killed by a magic arrow fired by Ram from the bow which he alone could bend. Ram and Sita returned to the great city of Ayodhya and the people welcomed them back by placing small lamps in their windows and lighting up the night sky. These lamps are called divas or deepas, from which comes the name of the festival Diwali, or Deepawali.
Today, Hindus light up their homes with divas, coloured lights and fireworks, in the hope that Lakshmi, the goddess of good fortune, will come to visit them at Diwali and bring good luck throughout the new year.
They send each other cards and gifts, buy new clothes, write special prayers in the front of account books, tell the story of Ram and Sita in puppet shows and make rangoli patterns (often out of coloured sand sprinkled on the doorstep).
The children in school made rangoli patterns from seeds and pasta.
And so, as my next door neighbours would say
If you aren't too busy celebrating, wander over to Alphabe-Thursday at Miss Jenny's to hook up with other heterogeneous h posts.