How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Photos: Diwali in Southern California, from Artesia to Pasadena

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Last night marked the most important night of Diwali, also known as Deepavali, a holiday with roots in India that is celebrated in much of South Asia, as well as in the United States.

One of the most important holidays for Hindus, Sikhs and others, it's known as the “Festival of Lights.”  Families light candles and oil lamps called diyas to honor the legend of the Hindu god Rama, who returned after years of exile to his kingdom after slaying Ravana, a demon king. The holiday represents the triumph of light over darkness, or good over evil, and adherents give thanks for both their inner and outer wealth.

Yesterday, KPCC photographer Mae Ryan and I visited a couple of places where different facets of Diwali took shape. I visited busy Pioneer Boulevard in Artesia, where stores advertised Diwali sales and Indian American merchants, some in parking-lot kiosks set up just for the holiday, spent the afternoon selling painted diyas, multicolored sand to make intricate rangoli floor designs, greeting cards, silk flower garlands and other Diwali decorations to crowds of customers, all in a hurry to get home and celebrate with their families.

Here's how Kevin Singh, manager of the Ambama Cash & Carry grocery store, described it in a brief radio piece yesterday: "It’s as good as Christmas for us, or New Year’s. We celebrate like it’s New Year’s. We are that excited about it. It’s that big of a deal for us."

Later last night, Mae visited the Pasadena Hindu Temple, where families took part in prayer rituals. In California there have been Diwali festivals occurring since last month; the festival is celebrated by millions of people around the world.

Do you celebrate Diwali? Share with us your photos (on Twitter, "@" mention @KPCC) or on Instagram, and please comment below!

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