We also lit lamps. It was a clay lamp filled with oil and a cotton wick made out of cotton wool. It was my job to make the wicks by rubbing them in between my palms. I also had to help mom polish all the brass ware in preparation for this big day. We baked goodies for a whole week and it was ll very involved complicated recipes. We then made little packages and on this special day we would give them to friends, family and neighbors. I also remember wearing new Indian clothes and taking a bath with three different kinds of oil to cleanse my body. I also had to drink Castor oil to clean the insides. that was not my favorite thing in the world.
So what is it ? Here is a description from wikepedia :
A row of lamps, part of the Diwali observance. Also called Translation: Row of Lights; Deepavali, Festival of Lights
Deepavali, or Diwali is a major Indian holiday, and a significant festival in Hinduism, Sikhism, [Buddhism]], and Jainism.  Many legends are associated with Diwali. Today it is celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs across the globe as the "Festival of Lights," where the lights or lamps signify victory of good over the evil within every human being. Diwali is celebrated on the first day of the lunar Kartika month, which comes in the month of October or November. In many parts of India, it is the homecoming of King Rama of Ayodhya after a 14-year exile in the forest, after he defeated the evil Ravana. The people of Ayodhya (the capital of his kingdom) welcomed Rama by lighting rows (avali) of lamps (deepa), thus its name: Deepavali. This word, in due course, became Diwali in Hindi. But, in South Indian languages, the word did not undergo any change, and hence the festival is called Deepavali in southern India. There are many different observances of the holiday across India.
Among the Sikhs, Diwali came to have special significance from the day the town of Amritsar was illuminated on the return to it of Guru Hargobind (1595-1644) who had been held captive in the Fort at Gwalior under the orders of the Mughal emperor, Jahangir (1570-1627). As the sixth Guru (teacher) of Sikhism, Guru Hargobind Ji, was freed from imprisonment - along with 53 Hindu Kings (who were held as political prisoners) whom the Guru had arranged to be released as well. After his release he went to the Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) in the holy city of Amritsar, where he was welcomed in happiness by the people who lit candles and diyas to greet the Guru. Because of this, Sikhs often refer to Diwali also as Bandi Chhorh Divas - “the day of release of detainees." The festival is also celebrated by Buddhists of Nepal, particularly the Newar Buddhists. In India, Diwali is now considered to be a national festival, and the aesthetic aspect of the festival is enjoyed by most Indians regardless of faith.
Since I am not celebrating today thank you for letting me share my memories and I will also share some pics I have of the kids that I took a while back. I have so many more and I will make a slide show and post to the blog. Thanks for stopping by and remember to please send some postcards. See post below.