Rangoli, decorations made from colored powder, is popular during Diwali.

To girls in some Western countries, this time of year means eating leftover Halloween candy, for American girls it also means looking forward to a Thanksgiving feast. However, to many girls in the US and all over the world, this time of year means the celebration of Diwali.

Diwali, one of the major religious festivals of the Hindu religion, is also celebrated by members of the Sikh and Jain religions. It is an official state holiday in India, and many other countries throughout southeast Asia, as well as in Mauritius, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago. The Diwali celebration and story is interpreted a little differently by celebrants from different areas.

In India, this five day festival comes at the end of the harvest season, and is the start of a new business year. The festival honors Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Lamps are lit to help the goddess find her way into people’s homes. Brightly-colored geometric patterns called rangoli are traditionally painted at the entrance of a household to and drive away evil spirits and to invite the goddess inside for the year to bless the house. Girls celebrating Diwali wear special, brightly colored outfit for the occasion, depending on the culture, this outfit might be a particular kind of sari.

In Washington DC, Sasha and Malia Obama celebrated Diwali by lighting the White House diya on November 5th, along with their parents. Sasha and Malia are hardly the only American girls celebrating Diwali. People with Indian and South East Asian backgrounds have spread the holiday all over the world. Diwali celebrations are also held at many major American museums. Celebrate Diwali the Girl Museum way by reading more about the holiday or trying out an activity!

Diwali Activities:

-Emily Holm
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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