Wednesday, September 24, 2014 | 12:48:00 AM
Diwali is one of the happiest of holidays in India, with significant preparations. People clean their homes and decorate them for the festivities. Diwali is one of the biggest shopping seasons in India; people buy new clothes for themselves and their families, gifts, appliances, kitchen utensils, small to big ticket items such as cars and gold jewelry.People also buy gifts for family members and friends which typically includes sweets, dry fruits and seasonal specialities depending on regional harvest and customs. It is also the period when little kids hear ancient stories, legends, myths and battle between good and evil, light and darkness from their parents and elders. Girls and women go shopping, and create rangoli and other creative patterns on floors, near doors and walkways. Youth and grown ups graduate to helping with lighting and preparing for patakhe (fireworks).
There is significant variation in regional practices and rituals. Depending on the region, prayers are offered before one or more deities, with most common being Lakshmi - the goddess of wealth and prosperity. On Diwali night, fireworks light up the neighborhood skies. Later, family members and invited friends celebrate the night over food and sweets.