India

In pictures: India celebrates Diwali

Indians are celebrating Diwali, the biggest Hindu festival, by lighting earthen lamps, bursting firecrackers and distributing sweets.

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On Diwali, many Indians worship Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Here, an artist gives the final touches to a Lakshmi statue at a workshop ahead of the festival in the southern city of Hyderabad.

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Homes across India are decorated with bright lights and colourful lanterns. Also known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali marks the victory of good over evil and celebrates the time when Lord Rama returned to his kingdom Ayodhya after vanquishing the demon king Ravana.

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The three-day festival began on Tuesday with Dhanteras - a day many believe is auspicious for making purchases. It's a day shops across India and jammed with shoppers and many buy precious metals like gold and silver.

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Dhanteras holds special significance for the business community. Here, a man marks one-rupee coins with kumkum - a red coloured powder used on social and religious occasions - as part of a Dhanteras ritual near the western city of Ahmedabad.

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Thousands of widows, who have been abandoned by their families, are for the first time participating in the Diwali celebrations organised by the non-governmental organisation Sulabh International. Here, a group of widows hold earthen oil lamps as they offer prayers on the banks of the river Yamuna.

Image copyright Reuters

Here, some elderly widows light sparklers after offering prayers in the northern town of Vrindavan.