East Tennesseans celebrate Diwali Festival of Lights

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Chants and prayers fill the night at the Knoxville Hindu Community Center. "We pray for good fortune, and good luck," Hema Chaudhary said.

It's their biggest celebration of the year, Diwali, the Festival of Lights.

"That's the last day of the Hindu calendar, the Diwali, and the next day is a new year," Rina Shah said.

For believers like Chaudhary, it's a chance at a fresh start.

"You take all of your bad things out of your heart and mind then forgive everybody," Chaudhary said. "Forget everything, whatever happened, bad things to you just forgive, and forget and be joyful."

She and others say the two day festival symbolizes the victory of light over the darkness, and good defeating evil. That alone is a reason enough to celebrate with food, fireworks and lights.

"We let go of the darkness by lighting all the candles and offering good wishes to each other from the heart, so that's how we light from the heart," Shah said.