The favourite time of the year is almost here with the Festival of Lights, Diwali, being just around the corner. All over India, one can find different styles of celebration which often begs the question, ‘how is Diwali celebrated?’
There is no standard celebration-format that can be found across the country. While this time is considered to be auspicious and one of meeting loved ones, different states have different rituals that they follow. If you’re wondering, ‘how is Deepavali celebrated?’ We have the answer for how the ‘festival of lights’ is celebrated across various states in India.
Diwali in North India is a grand affair as it symbolises the return of Lord Ram, his wife Sita and brother Laxman, after 14 years of exile. The return also signifies the victory of good over evil and is associated with positive outcomes and an auspicious time.
Cities in North India such as Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and others, celebrate this day by lighting up their homes and streets with diyas. Driveways are lit with diyas while terraces and balconies have strings of lights to mark this festival.
Crackers are also one of the biggest joys of this occasion. At the time of Lord Ram, people lit crackers as a celebration of his return, a tradition that continues today. Children and adults get together after Diwali Puja, where prayers are offered to Goddess Laxmi and can be seen eagerly lighting various crackers that light up the sky and the neighbouring areas. Drawing ‘rangoli’ outside the house is also commonly observed. These art creations are usually made with colours and flower petals outside the house.
A common tradition is also that of gambling. Diwali parties, also known as card parties, bring together loved ones in a celebration where ‘Teen Patti’ is often the game of choice. Stakes are low and high, and the games often continue through the wee hours of the night.
The overall theme of Diwali stays the same with a few marked differences in the Eastern-end of India. The use of diyas, lights and crackers form a major part of the festival. In places such as West Bengal and Assam, prayers are offered to Goddess Kali on Diwali. The Puja continues late in the night and several neighbourhoods host Kali Puja pandals for people to come together and pray.
This festival is also believed to be auspicious for ancestors. Several people in Eastern India light diyas or put on lights on poles for their ancestors. They believe that this passage of light marks the way to heaven and is a way of helping those that have passed, reach the Holy place easier.
Laxmi Puja in the East is performed on the sixth day after Durga Puja. On this day people keep their homes well-lit and clean in the belief that Goddess Laxmi will come to their home and bless them. Most houses believe in the tradition of leaving the door of their home open to allow her entry.
The drawing of rangoli is also a prominent feature in Eastern India and offers a visual treat for guests visiting as well as people in the neighbourhood.
Diwali in Western India is celebrated with a bang. As this period is considered to be auspicious, a lot of shopping takes place during this time. These range from jewellery and property to business deals and household goods. Markets are flooded and business decisions are taken in zest with the blessings of Goddess Laxmi.
Rangoli creations are most commonly found in Western India states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. The wonderful blend of colours and flowers in intricate designs are a trademark of this festival. People also care to dress up in new clothes and celebrate the day with full enthusiasm. For a lot of people in Gujarat, Diwali marks the start of the New Year.
Diyas and lamps are also found lit in abundance to welcome Goddess Laxmi and invite her blessings. A lot of offices also conduct a Diwali Puja either on the day before the main Diwali or earlier in the day. The belief is that Goddess Laxmi’s blessings will help them prosper in the New Year.
In Maharashtra, food is also specially prepared for Diwali. While sweets are a big part of the festival all over India, this state enjoys a special meal known as Faral – a mix of both savoury and sweet foods. These include ‘chaklis’, ‘karanji’, ‘laddoo’ and a host of other snacks.
Deepavali in Tamil Nadu and other Southern states is celebrated on Naraka Chaturdashi. A massive tradition in South India is for people to clean their homes vigorously before Diwali. ‘Rangoli’ or ‘Kolam’ as referred to in South India is made using rice flour instead of colours. It is a popular belief that kolams bring home prosperity and good luck. On the morning of the festival, people wake up early and have an oil bath, a tradition that is believed to have begun in the days of Lord Krishna.
People wear new clothes and celebrate by bursting crackers and enjoying a variety of sweet delicacies. While overall festivities carried out in celebrating Deepavali in Tamil Nadu and other states are similar, there is a great emphasis on cleanliness.