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Chandigarh

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Monsoon season in southern Asia has begun, and in India the rains arrived ahead of schedule, easing drought concerns. Monsoon rains can be disruptive and even deadly, but crucial for the farmers whose crops feed millions of people. Though concerns for flooding are prevalent, the arrival of the rains brings colorful celebrations and relief from the heat every year. -Leanne Burden Seidel (32 photos total)
An Indian buffalo herder holding a traditional handmade umbrella stands in a field to keep watch of his buffaloes as monsoon clouds hover above in Bhubaneswar, India, on June 13, 2013. (Biswaranjan Rout/Associated Press)     

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Hindus worldwide recently celebrated Diwali, a five-day "festival of lights" that marks the new year and honors the principle of good over evil. One Diwali ritual is honoring Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity. The occasion is also celebrated with fireworks, the sharing of sweets and gifts, and by decorating homes with lights and candles. Diwali is an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore, and Fiji.-- Lloyd Young EDITOR'S NOTE: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be no post on Friday.)( 42 photos total)
A reveler lights a bottle rocket at a park during Diwali, the “festival of lights”, in Kolkata on Nov. 13. The festival marks the victory of good over evil and commemorates the time when Hindu God Lord Rama achieved victory over Ravana and returned to his kingdom Ayodhya after 14 years in exile. (Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP/Getty Images)

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Today marks the start of the five-day festival of Diwali, celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs around the world. During Diwali, originally a harvest festival, lamps are lit to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, fireworks are set off to drive away evil spirits, and prayers for prosperity are offered to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Collected here are images of this year's festival, as celebrants color their world, give prayers, and wish each other a happy Diwali. [33 photos]

A girl lights earthen lamps in a formation to form the shape of Hindu god Ganesh, the deity of prosperity, on the eve of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh, on November 12, 2012. (Reuters/Ajay Verma)

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diversity is everywhere in India, from its religions and languages to its economy, and climates. The second-most populous nation in the world, India is home to more than 1.2 billion people. Most are Hindu, but seven other religions -- including Islam, Christianity and Sikhism -- make up nearly 20 percent of the population. January 26 will be India's 62nd Republic Day, marking the date in 1950 when the country's constitution came into force. Collected here are recent photos from across the vast nation, offering only a small glimpse of the people and diversity of India. [41 photos]

Indian soldiers from the Border Security Forces atop camels stand at attention in front of the Presidential Palace during a ceremony in preparation for the annual Beating Retreat in New Delhi, India, on January 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

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According to projections by the United Nations, the world population has reached 7 billion and continues to grow rapidly.  While more people are living longer and healthier lives, gaps are widening between the rich and the poor in some nations and tens of millions of people are vulnerable to food and water shortages.  There is, of course, the issue of the impact of that sheer number on the environment, including pollution, waste disposal, use of natural resources and food production.  This post focuses on wheat and the effect of our numbers on the environment.  Wheat is the most important cereal in the world and along with rice and corn accounts for about 73 percent of all cereal production.  It isn't surprising that 7 billion people have a lasting impact on our world's natural resources and the environment in which we live. -- Paula Nelson (36 photos total)
One of the world's breadbaskets lies in the prairies of Canada. This stalk, near Lethbridge, Alberta, helps form the foundation for the most important food product in the world: cereal grains. (Todd Korol/Reuters)

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TAKE A LEAP
TAKE A LEAP: A worker leapt over stacked sacks of grain at a wholesale market in Chandigarh, India, Thursday. India’s food-price index rose 9.32% since October 2010, according to newly released government data. (Ajay Verma/Reuters)

AGAINST A WALL
AGAINST A WALL: Capitol police arrested a protester who disrupted a hearing at which Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Army Gen. Martin Dempsey were speaking in Washington Thursday. The hearing focused on the future of national defense. (Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

FUEL FIRE
FUEL FIRE: A boy looked at smoke rising from an Afghanistan-bound NATO fuel truck that was attacked by gunmen near Shikarpur, Pakistan, Thursday. The attackers set several fuel trucks on fire. (Nadeem Soomro/Reuters)

THE CAT’S MEOW
THE CAT’S MEOW: Ben Kiff, 20 years old, wore a cat suit as he waited in line Thursday to purchase an iPhone 4S at an Apple store on London’s Regent Street. The Apple fan said he planned to come to every launch dressed as a different animal. (National News/Zuma Press)

ARRESTED
ARRESTED: Police arrested Scott Dekraai, 42, about a half-mile from the scene where he allegedly opened fire at the hair salon where his ex-wife worked, killing eight people in Seal Beach, Calif., Wednesday. Mr. Dekraai and his ex-wife were engaged in a custody dispute. (Rose Palmisano/The Orange County Register/Zuma Press)

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Indian Hindu devotees throughout the world celebrate Janmashtami, which marks the birth of Hindu God Lord Krishna with enormous zeal and enthusiasm. Children and adults dress as the Hindu God Krishna and his consort Radha in bright, elaborate costumes and jewelry. Human pyramids form to break the 'dahi-handi' or curd pot. The large earthenware pot is filled with milk, curds, butter, honey and fruits and is suspended from a height of 20 - 40 feet. Participants come forward to claim this prize by constructing a human pyramid, enabling the uppermost person to reach the pot and claim its contents. -- Paula Nelson (27 photos total)
An Indian schoolboy is dressed as the Hindu God Krishna. (Rajesh Kumar Singh/Associated Press)

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TIED TOGETHER
TIED TOGETHER: Children who live in slums tied together Indian and Pakistani national flags at a workshop run by a nongovernmental organization in Chandigarh, India, Monday. The flags will be distributed to fans at the India-Pakistan Cricket World Cup semifinal match. (Ajay Verma/Reuters)

PRICE CUT
PRICE CUT: Staff changed price tags to reflect price cuts at a pharmacy in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China, Monday. China cut the maximum retail price for more than 1,200 types of antibiotics and circulatory system drugs in a move to lower health-care costs. (European Pressphoto Agency)

ALONG FOR THE RIDE
ALONG FOR THE RIDE: Supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad rallied near the Syrian Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday. In Daraa, Syria, a witness said security forces fired shots in the air and tear gas at a crowd of about 4,000 people as they protested for political freedom. (Wael Hamzeh/European Pressphoto Agency)

JEWISH TRADITION
JEWISH TRADITION: Ultra-Orthodox Jewish people prayed in Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighborhood as they buried boxes of ancient bones Monday. The bones were unearthed during excavations for a luxury hotel in Jaffa, south of Tel Aviv, where ancient graves are believed to be. (Jim Hollander/European Pressphoto Agency)

TRADITIONAL CHEESE
TRADITIONAL CHEESE: A Palestinian woman made cheese outside her family’s cave near the West Bank village of Yatta Monday. (Abed al Hashlamoun/European Pressphoto Agency)

WAITING
WAITING: Migrants from Libya waited to board a ferry on the Italian island of Linosa Monday. (Venezia Filippo/European Pressphoto Agency)

SPIDER-MAN
SPIDER-MAN: A man watched French climber Alain Robert scale the Burj Khalifa — the world’s tallest building — in Dubai Monday. (Marwan Naamani/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

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