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The Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling

Diwali

 

Diwali is the Hindu Festival of Light. The name is a shortened version of the word “dipavali” which means “row of lights”.

In India it is celebrated for up to five days, but in Britain it is usually celebrated on the night of the new moon that marks the end of the Hindu month of Ashwin and the start of the month of Kartik. In the Western calendar this usually falls somewhere in October or November.

Diwali marks the end of the harvest and the Indian New Year. It is a time for optimism when Hindus celebrate the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.

Hindus prepare for the big day by cleaning or even decorating the house. They try to make sure that their bills are paid so they are clear of debts for the beginning of the new year. They will buy new clothes for themselves and Diwali cards and presents for their friends and family. It is traditional to give dried fruit and sweets, although some families buy more expensive presents like toys for the children.

Stories are told that celebrate the theme of good defeating evil. The most common is the story of Rama defeating Ravana as told in the Ramayana. Another story tells of Narakasura, a demon king who had kidnapped thousands of women and was keeping them locked up in his castle. After a long reign of terror he is finally defeated by Krishna.

An important part of Diwali is the welcoming of Lakshmi into the home. Lakshmi is the Hindu goddess of wealth and good luck. In pictures she is usually shown wearing a red sari (red is a lucky colour in India), standing in a lotus flower (which symbolises purity) with showers of gold coins falling from her hands. Hindus want her to bless their homes so the new year brings good fortune. The house should already be clean, because it is believed that Lakshmi will not reward lazy people. Little oil lamps called diyas (or candles) are placed in the windows and in doorways to attract her to the house.

Some people will create rangoli patterns on the doorstep, or on the pavement outside the house. Rangoli patterns are traditionally made from flour, rice and brightly coloured spices like turmeric [куркума] and cayenne [красный перец]. These days people often use coloured chalk or powder paint instead. The patterns are often symmetrical or geometrical and lotus flower patterns are especially popular, because they are one of Lakshmi’s symbols. At a small shrine in the house, offerings of flowers, rose water, fruit, nuts, incense [ладан] and more diyas are made to Lakshmi and prayers are said. This is called “Lakshmi Puja” – puja being the word for “prayer” or “worship” [поклонение] in Hinduism. The worship of Lakshmi and the story of the Ramayana are linked because Hindus believe that Sita was actually Lakshmi in human form.



Everyone wears their new clothes to make a fresh start at the new year. Women and girls often have mehndi patterns drawn on their hands. These are intricate [замысловатый] designs made on the skin with henna paste, which leaves a stain that lasts for days.

Celebrations go on into the night with fireworks, dancing and lots of good food, especially sweets.


 

 

The Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling

The Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling is an annual event held on the Spring Bank Holiday at Cooper's Hill, near Gloucester in England. It is traditionally by and for the people who live in the local village of Brockworth, but now people from all over the world take part. The Guardian called it a "world-famous event", and indeed, in 2013, a 27-year-old American and a 39-year-old Japanese each won one of the four races. The event takes its name from the hill on which it occurs.



The event is traditional. In recent years, it has been managed, in an official manner, but since 2010 the event has taken place spontaneously without any management.

Format

From the top of the hill a 9 lb round of Double Gloucester cheese is rolled, and competitors race down the hill after it. The first person over the finish line at the bottom of the hill wins the cheese. In theory, competitors are aiming to catch the cheese; however, it has around a one second head start and can reach speeds up to 70 mph (112 km/h), enough to knock over and injure a person. In the 2013 competition, a foam replica replaced the actual cheese for reasons of safety. The winner was given the prize after the competition.


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