LUCKY SEVERSON: On our calendar this week ... the festival of Diwali, a word meaning "row of light." Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs around the world observe this holiday. For Hindus and Jains, Diwali marks the beginning of the new year.
Different religions have their own legends to describe the
origins of Diwali. For Hindus, one of the most popular stories
is Lord Rama's homecoming. That was portrayed this year
at a colorful celebration of Diwali in Landover, Maryland.
A participant, Menaka Kannan, describes it.
MENAKA KANNAN: Diwali is the festival of lights in
the Hindu faith. Basically, it symbolizes King Rama's return
to his kingdom after being exiled. And the story goes that
his father banished him from the kingdom and sent him to
exile in the forest. On Diwali, we try to reenact the way
that Rama came back. So the citizens all danced in the streets,
and so the same way we dance on Diwali.
Generally, the more classical dances are devoted toward
the gods, and on this occasion probably more toward Rama.
Part of the celebration of Diwali includes a Grand Puja.
The puja comes near the end of the Diwali celebration, and
it is the biggest part of the entire celebration. Basically,
priests from various different temples, along with the children,
go to the stage and begin to do prayers to the Lord.