Diwali is a very significant day for Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs. It celebrates the home coming of Rama, who was the seventh avatar of Vishnu and the legendary king of Ayodhya, after his exile in the forest for 14 years. It also celebrates Rama’s victory over Ravana, the evil king of Lanka that, as legend has it, was a brute who kidnapped Rama’s wife, Sita. Diwali is such an important day that it is recognized as an official holiday in India.
The legend states that the good people of Ayodhya, welcomed Rama home by lighting long rows of lamps. This is where Diwali gets its other name, “the Festival of Lights”, from. Diwali is derived from the two words “avail”, meaning rows, and “dipa” or “divas” meaning lamps. These lamps are lit to signify the victory of good over evil, especially within a person.
Diwali also has other significance for other religions. For example, in South India, Diwali represents the victory of Krishna over Narakasura, and in the religion of Jainism, Diwali represents Mahavira’s attainment of nirvana. The Sikhs celebrate the release of Guru Har Gobind Ji who had been held captive by the Emperor Jahangir. The Guru was welcomed home with candles.
There are many beautiful festivals around the world that celebrate Diwali. It is really a pleasure to watch, or even take part in, these wonderful traditions. Some of these celebrations have become famous in non-traditional areas. You can now celebrate Diwali as far away as such places as: Australia, Singapore, South Africa and even Trinidad and Tobago. It is truly an international celebration.

Holi- the Indian Festival of Colors

Holi- the Indian Festival of ColorsHoli- the Indian Festival of Colors
Holi is celebrated in the Northern parts of India and heralds the arrival of spring. It is also known as the Ranga Panchami, indicating the extensive use of colors in the celebration.. When baby, Prince Prahlad, started to worship Narayana (Vishnu) as his personal God Prince Prahlad’s father, Hiranya Kashyap, sent him to  be cared for by the demoness, Holika. Hiranya asked her to train the infant to worship  him as God. When she reported that the child was adamant the King ordered her to jump into a huge fire carrying the child with her. Holika died in the fire, but the child Prince escaped miraculously. To commemorate the victory of Good over Evil, Holi is celebrated on Chaitra Pratipada day, i.e. “the first day of the month of Chaitra”, as per the Hindu Calendar. There are also legends depicting Lord Rama celebrating Holi with his subjects and Lord Krishna celebrating Holi with the residents of Vrindavan.
Personal interaction between persons normally separated by rules of conduct may occur during the the application of color powders and colored water. There is a mood of gay abandon and purges the mind of pent-up tensions, without the risk of stigma. The colored face provides a kind of anonymity, and everyone smears others with color or sprays them with colored liquids.
An interesting feature of Holi is that persons belonging to non-Hindu communities  also join in the celebrations. Environmentalists have recently campaigned to ensure that only natural colors are used for Holi. This festival has interesting parallels in the Carnivals of some Latin American States and in Europe.