LAHORE: Hindu community celebrated Diwali festival on Sunday and lit clay pots, candles and lights in and around their houses to mark the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil and hope over despair. “For us, darkness (evil) represents ignorance and light (good) is a metaphor for knowledge,” explained Prof Ashok Kumar, a lecturer of Hindi and Sindhi languages at the Punjab University. “Lights are lit to symbolise the power of knowledge to destroy evils like violence, lust, greed, bigotry, fear and injustice,” he said. Traditionally, homes are cleaned on Diwali, sweets are exchanged and new clothes are worn. The purchase of new clothes, mehdi, bangles and general commodities is part of preparations to celebrate the annual festival. On this occasion, the Hindu community was in a celebratory, religious and spiritual mood. “We celebrate Diwali as per our past traditions, by lighting earthen lamps in and around our homes,” said Amarnath Randhawa, a celebrated Hindu leader. “Diwali conveys the message of happiness and liveliness,” he said. The home decoration and lighting of oil lamps were the two most prominent features of this festival, he said. Pandit Roop Chand Sharma and Pandit Bhagat Lal Khokhar led pooja (worship) at the Krishna Mandir on Ravi Road and the Valmiki Mandar in Anarkali, respectively in the provincial capital where devotees gathered to perform religious rituals. Hindu clerics informed the gathering that this day was celebrated in honour of Lakshmi – the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity. “The festival also marks the return of Lord Ram and Sita after completing 14 years in exile,” they said. Typically, the festival preparations and rituals extend over a five-day period, but the main festival night of Diwali coincides with the new moon night of the Hindu Lunisolar month of Kartika in Bikram Sambat calendar. The festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the month, according to the religious traditions. “Diwali means family, love and celebrations. It’s a time to eat, greet, food and to make the house look pretty. I love to decorate my home,” said Mohni Amar, a student of the Government College University. “Good wishes for a joyous Diwali. May the Festival of Lights be the harbinger of joy and prosperity for all of us,” she said as she shared this message to her relatives in Lahore and other cities. “Diwali is about wearing my new dress. For my parents, the highlight of the day is food – cooking for mother and eating for guests and family members – and for many others it is an important time of prayer and reflection,” said Ameet Kumar, a resident of the Mohan Lal Street. “For us, decorations and lights of the most splendid spectacle anywhere in the world are forever illuminated in our memories,” he said. “May this Diwali lights up new dreams, fresh hopes, undiscovered avenues, different perspectives, everything bright, beautiful and fill our days,” Ram Sameer, a local, shared this message with his friends.