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Altaf Qadri

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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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A man walks as snow and frozen wind billows cross the region, in Roncesvalles, northern Spain, Thursday Feb. 2, 2012. A cold spell has reached Europe with temperatures plummeting far below zero. Protesters demonstrate inside of a tent created by draping a tarp over a statue of Union General James McPherson at the Occupy DC [...]

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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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Fireworks explode in the sky over Bucharest, Romania, at midnight, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012, during street celebrations of the new year. Large crowds gathered around the word to bring in 2012. Los Angeles Fire Department firefighters assist a man out of his apartment along with a cage of birds as multiple cars burn in a [...]

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A park ranger stands at the site of a new eruption in Virunga National Park near Goma, on November 24, 2011. Almost three weeks after a fissure opened amidst dense flat forest, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park has seen an increasing number of tourists seeking to be guided on treks to witness [...]

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Sri Lankan prisoners prepare to perform a traditional dance at the main Welikada prison in Colombo November 17, 2011. The cultural event is organized by the prisons department as part of the rehabilitation program for convicts, according to officials. Occupy Los Angeles protesters march through downtown during a rally Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011. Occupy Wall [...]

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Kayaker Alan Brady is surprised by two breaching humpback whales while kayaking off the coast of Seabright State Beach in Santa Cruz, Calif. Photographer Paul Schraub was shooting pictures from a boat while on assignment for the Santa Cruz Conference and Visitors Council when he captured the moment. Newborn Pakistani babies, receive phototherapy treatment against [...]

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Flood waters inundating Thailand north of Bangkok since July have made the journey south and reached the capital. The disaster is responsible for 400 deaths in Thailand and neighboring Cambodia and Vietnam. Thailand is the world's biggest rice exporter, but the floods have wiped out over a quarter of the country's crop. The government has declared a five-day holiday for the capital to allow residents time to evacuate. Damages could top six billion dollars in Thailand's worst flooding in 50 years. Collected here are images of the water as it moves south to Bangkok, and how residents there are dealing with the disaster. -- Lane Turner (43 photos total)
A woman holds a toddler as she walks through floodwaters in an area near the Chao Praya river in Bangkok on October 29, 2011. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images)

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