Runner-up is "Diwali" written by Pranavkrishna Bharanidharan.
Pranavkrishna is from India, but lives in the United States. He is a participant of the California Montessori Project. In his essay he tells us about the origins of the festival of light and what he enjoys most about the colourful celebrations.
My favorite holiday is Diwali or Deepavali. It is also called “The Festival of Lights.” It is celebrated in October or November by Hindus in India and the Indian Diaspora. It originated more than 2,500 years ago.
Multiple stories are linked to this celebration. One story from northern India tells the story about the great King Rama, one of the avatars of the Hindu god Vishnu. According to the Ramayana, an ancient epic, Rama returned to his kingdom after fourteen years of exile, and defeating the evil demon Ravana, who kidnapped his wife, Sita. On his arrival to Ayodhya, his kingdom, people welcomed him by lighting lamps called diyas. A popular story from southern India is about the Hindu god Krishna, saving sixteen-thousand women from Narakasura, an evil king. In both stories, it is a victory of good over evil. Diwali is also a celebration of goddess Lakshmi.
On the day of Diwali, I like to visit temple, where I pray to Mother Lakshmi. We worship Goddess Lakshmi for peace, prosperity, and wealth. I also wear new Indian clothes, such as a kurta for men and a sari for women.
We light our homes with diyas, an oil lamp made from clay. We light them by using a cotton wick dipped in ghee or oil. This is one of the reasons that Diwali is called as “The Festival of Lights.” This signifies the victory of good over evil and the dispelling of darkness. We also share sweets with our friends and family.
There are many delicious milk sweets, cashew sweets, and almond sweets my family prepares, but out of all of these delectable desserts, my favorite is Gulab Jamun. It is a milk sweet soaked in a sugar syrup.
The most enjoyable part of Diwali for me and my most favorite part of diwali, is lighting sparklers with my family. The magnanimous light of the sparklers and saying “Happy Diwali” to my family helps me find the true spirit of Diwali, which is togetherness. This reminds me of the Fourth of July, because both of them have grand celebrations.
There are so many celebrations around the world like Halloween and Thanksgiving, but my favorite is Diwali. Diwali gives us hope for new beginnings. Diwali brings all of us together in the spirit of celebration, joy, and happiness.
In the Age category 8 - 11 years, Pranavkrishna is runner-up. His essay enlightens us about the fascinating history and traditions which he vividly describes. Well done, Pranavkrishna! Congratulations!