More than a billion small lamps lit the evening sky and hand-held sparkler fireworks added to the dancing light, while firecrackers boomed almost as if a war was going on. In hundreds of millions of homes, people chanted the sacred mantras and called upon the gods to help good defeat evil, and light overcome darkness.

Indians right across the vast subcontinent, and indeed worldwide last month, celebrated Diwali, the festival of lights, Hinduism’s biggest festival, with fervor. But, perhaps unknown to most devotees of Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, and Ganesh, the elephant god revered as the remover of obstacles, this year had a special — Chinese — flavor.

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