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Chandni Chowk, originally meaning moonlit square or market, is one of the oldest and busiest markets in Old Delhi, now in central north Delhi, India. Built in 17th century by the Mughal emperor of India Shah Jahan and designed by his daughter Jahan Ara, the market was once divided by canals (now closed) to reflect moonlight, and it remains one of India's largest wholesale markets.
Symbolizing the remnants of a medieval world, the Chandni Chowk today stands at crossroads in time, looking forward to an age where modernity and tradition promise to walk hand in hand. The history of Chandni Chowk dates back to the foundation of the city of Shahjahanabad when the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan established the Red Fort or the Laal Quila as it is also known on the banks of the River Yamuna beside his newly founded capital city of Shahjahanabad.
Diwali also called the "festival of lights", is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in autumn every year. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. The festival preparations and rituals typically extend over a five day period, but the main festival night of Diwali coincides with the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartik. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali night falls between mid-October and mid-November.
Before Diwali night, people clean, renovate and decorate their homes. On Diwali night, Hindus dress up in new clothes or their best outfit, light up diyas (lamps and candles) inside and outside their home, participate in family puja typically to Lakshmi - the goddess of wealth and prosperity. After puja (prayers), fireworks follow, then a family feast including mithai (sweets), and an exchange of gifts between family members and close friends. Diwali also marks a major shopping period in nations where it is celebrated.
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