India is a multicultural land where various languages are spoken, may religious and customs observed, and may festivals are celebrated. Each festival has a religious or mythological significance behind it. All festivals are celebrated with enthusiasm and traditional gaiety. Children especially enjoy them a great deal. The family usually prepares for the festival well in advance. Clothes are bought, the house is cleaned and white washed. Everything begins to glitter and gleam.
My favourite festival is Diwali. It usually falls on the eve of winter. This is a festival of lights and sound. New clothes are bought for every member of the family and on the day of the festival the family prays together. Laxmi Pooja is performed.
Shop-keepers perform pooja in their shops as well as at home. People greet their relatives and friends with sweets and crackers. The shops on the streets are lighted with colourful bulbs and one always finds a crowd of people shopping there.
As the evening approaches the houses are lit with candles and electric lights. Children burst crackers. One hears the sound of loud bombs and smaller crackers from all across the city. Looking up at the sky one finds rockets and various other fireworks filling the sky with gaiety. The air gets polluted with gas that is emitted by the crackers.
Children are warned to be careful while bursting crackers because any neglect could cause burns. In fact the fire stations work overtime on Diwali because there are many cases of children and even adults getting burnt while bursting crackers and houses burnt.
Gambling is also common on Diwali day. However, this mars the spirit of the festival. People could simply play cards, but drinking and gambling could be corrupting influences and the purity and sanctity of the festival is spoiled when such activities take place.
Diwali is a beautiful festival because every house looks like a little palace with lights. It leads to goodwill and friendship and provides one and all with the opportunity to greet each other and herald the coming year with feelings of comradeship. People bury their old gradges, forget all ill feelings that they might have harboured over the year. Diwali brings peace and joy and this makes it my favorite festival.
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