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Story On Diwali Feast in Tucson Weekly

submitted by Dasarath dasa, by Tucson Weely

Posted October 29, 2006

Eastern Feast
Diwali Festival
5 to 9 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 22
Govinda's Natural Foods Restaurant and Boutique, 711 E. Blacklidge Drive
792-0630

The nights are getting cooler, the days are getting shorter, and people all over America are gearing up for Halloween and Thanksgiving. But in India, they have a different holiday to add some cheer to these darker days: It's called Diwali.

"Diwali means 'festival of lights or lamps,'" explains Sandamini, co-owner of the Hare Krishna-run restaurant Govinda's Natural Foods. "(The holiday) is celebrated all over India with great pomp and excitement. ... All the houses are lit up with lights, candles and ghee lamps, along with lots of sweets and fireworks."

According to legend, Diwali originated with people setting out lamps to light the way for the Hindu god Lord Rama, who had been banished from his kingdom, Ayodhya, and made to live in the forest for 14 years. Upon the god's return, he and an army of monkeys and bears won a fierce battle against the demon king Ravana, who had captured Rama's wife, Sita. In celebration of Rama's victory and Sita's rescue, the people of Ayodhya danced and lit fireworks to show how happy they were. For Hindus, the holiday signifies thanksgiving, the renewal of life and the triumph of good over evil.

If these seem like causes for celebration to you, you should attend Tucson's own Diwali festival, put on by Govinda's to coincide with the real Indian holiday. The event will feature music, a shadow puppet show, Indian dancers and even Flam Chen fire dancers enacting a scene from the great Indian epic *Ramayana*. There will also be "a hill of sweets" for distribution and a vegetarian feast served around 8 p.m.

The event--even the feast--is free, so there's really no excuse *not* to attend. It's a fun, educational and healthy way to practice stuffing your stomach in preparation for Thanksgiving (the American version). --A.M.

Click Here for the article in Tucson Weekly