This is the second in an occasional series on how Americans celebrate religious holidays. The first was on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Each fall — September, October and November in the United States — thousands of American Hindus celebrate one of Hinduism’s most important festivals, Diwali,  or the Festival of Lights. The five-day holiday marks the triumph of good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and light over darkness as symbolized by the burning oil lamps called diyas.

“New beginnings, new endeavors and an opportunity to renew ties with family and friends” is what Diwali brings to Hindus, says Neeta Bhasin, a Diwali event organizer in New York. Many Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists also observe Diwali in accordance with their own traditions. Diwali takes place this year October 25–29.

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