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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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They keep things out or enclose them within. They're symbols of power, and a means of control. They're canvases for art, backdrops for street theater, and placards for political messages. They're just waiting for when nobody's looking to receive graffiti. Walls of all kinds demarcate our lives. -- Lane Turner (41 photos total).
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Workers clean the curtain wall of the 40-story National Bank of Economic Social Development in Rio de Janeiro on December 12, 2012. (Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images)     

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Meghan Lyden

Nepal celebrated the 60th anniversary of the conquest of Mount Everest on Wednesday by honoring climbers who followed in the footsteps of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. Nepalese officials offered flower garlands and scarfs to the climbers who took part in the ceremony. They were taken around Katmandu on horse-drawn carriages followed by hundreds of [...]

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Sixty years ago today New Zealand mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay made the first confirmed ascent of the world's tallest peak which reaches 29,029 feet. Since then thousands of people have made the attempt, with many perishing. Just last week 80-year-old Japanese mountaineer Yuichiro Miura became the oldest person to reach the summit for the third time, although he said that he nearly died on the descent and that this would be his last time. The 1953 expedition that took Hillary and Norgay to the top ended with a stay of just 15 minutes, with Norgay leaving chocolates in the snow and Hillary leaving a cross that was given to him by Army Colonel John Hunt, the leader of the British expedition. -- Lloyd Young ( 37 photos total)
Tenzing Norgay, left, and Sir Edmund Hillary on their historic ascent of Mount Everest in 1953. (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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It's time once more for a look into the animal kingdom and our interactions with the countless other species that share our planet. Today's photos include a fiery Spanish festival, a frightening encounter with a leopard in India, a flamingo undergoing laser treatment, a new species named in honor of entertainer Beyonce, and the plight of Ukraine's "vodka bears". These images and many others are part of this roundup of animals in the news from recent weeks, seen from the perspectives of their human observers, companions, captors, and caretakers. [42 photos]

A man rides a horse through a bonfire on January 16, 2012 in the small village of San Bartolome de Pinares, Spain. In honor of San Anton, the patron saint of animals, horses are ridden through the bonfires on the night before the official day of honoring animals in Spain. (Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

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