Diwali — Hindu festival of lights — illuminates the sky


(NewsNation Now) — Indians across the globe began celebrating Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, Thursday.

Diwali is one of the major festivals observed by more than one billion Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists in the United States, India and around the world.

The holiday traditionally lasts for five days and is celebrated by socializing and exchanging gifts with family and friends.

Many people light oil lamps or candles to symbolize a victory of light over darkness, and fireworks are set off as part of the celebrations.

Even though the government in India has asked people to avoid large gatherings, markets have been buzzing ahead of Diwali, with eager crowds buying flowers, lanterns and candles.

People light lamps on the banks of the river Saryu in Ayodhya, India, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. Over 900,000 earthen lamps were lit and were kept burning for 45 minutes as the north Indian city of Ayodhya retained its Guinness World Record for lighting oil lamps as part of the Diwali celebration – the Hindu festival of lights. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

As dusk fell Wednesday, over 900,000 earthen lamps were lit and kept burning for 45 minutes in the northern city of Ayodhya, retaining the Guinness World Record it set last year.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden became the first president and first lady to light a diya, an oil lamp, in the White House to celebrate Diwali.

The White House released a statement saying, in part:

To those who celebrate here in America, we are grateful to you for making the traditions of Diwali part of America’s story. May the spirit of Diwali remind us that out of darkness there is light in knowledge, wisdom, and truth.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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