Diversity of Diwali

By Mrs. Navneeta Talukdar 


Cleaning the house, shopping for the best clothes and decorative items for our homes, lining up the boxes of sweets to carry to friends and family and the mouth-watering aroma of festive delicacies!

Yes, you guessed it right. It’s Diwali –a time for celebration with family and friends, a time to invite and worship the Goddess of wealth, luck and prosperity – Lakshmi,a time to immerse into introspection as we celebrate the victory of good over evil.Everyone in India, regardless of religion or caste, revels in the spectacular festival of lights. 

It’s quite interesting to know that though the biggest and most popular festival of Hindus is celebrated with great revelry across the world, the rituals widely differ in various parts of our country. 

Let’s have a look at some of the most fascinating ways in which Diwali is celebrated across the country.

Pathway To Heaven – Odisha

During Diwali, Odisha builds a light way in the dark. Tall bamboo poles are put up outside homes, with an earthen pot tied high on the pole, through a rope. Inside each pot is a glowing lamp, adding its lustre to the bamboo shoots. The reason behind this ritual is emotional. The people in Odisha believe that lighting the dark will help their ancestors’ spirits find their way to heaven

Worshipping Goddess Kali – West Bengal

In West Bengal devotees worship Maa Kali, the Goddess of destruction. Maa Kali, according to Bengalis, destroys the past, so that we can look forward to the future. She is also the destroyer of evil and all the illusory elements of life. Most devotees fast during the dayand then revel in a wide range of sweets and savoury dishes the next day. 

Chhoti Diwali – Bihar

In Bihar, before the grand Diwali celebrations, people celebrateChhoti Diwali. This is the day before Diwali and is marked with fewer lights and crackers. Devotees undertake a day-long fast, which can only be broken by the setting of the sun. Then each house lights up with the soft glow of 21 diyas. The next day, devotees bathe in the Ganga, before the grand celebrations and rituals of Diwali start.

Lake Of Shining Waters – Kashmir

Kashmiri Pundits celebrate Diwali with great spirit and fervour. Apart from cleaning the house and lighting it with diyas,prayers are offered to the Goddess Lakshmi. Sweets, dry fruits and traditional Diwali dishes add to the flavour of the festival. However, a celebration of Diwali is considered incomplete without a visit to Dal Lake. Millions of diyas float on the lake’s surface, creating ripples of fire and water with the snow-capped mountains encircling the glowing lake.

Narak Chaturdasi– Goa

Diwali celebrations are a little different in Goa with a stroke of drama symbolizing the victory of light over dark and good over evil. The legend behind a Goan Diwali involves Krishna’s slaying of the demon king Narkasur using the Sudharshan Chakra. To honour this event, huge and extensively decorated effigies of the demon king are burnt.

Shopping Spree – Rajasthan

Diwali is a festival of wealth and prosperity, of welcoming the new. Honouring this spirit, Jaipur hosts a magnificent shopping festival, which includes small and large markets adorned with exquisite festive and traditional decorations, along with household items and other appliances. Each market decorates itself elaborately to outshine the others, making Jaipur a treat for the eyes during Diwali. The Udaipur Light Festival is also one of the main attractions where one can enjoy performances, music showsand release a lantern into the night sky.

Spiritual and Spectacular – Varanasi

Diwali is celebrated with a massive aarti right at the shore of the river Ganga. The ghats are illuminated with diyas and candles, some of which are floated on the river with the show of firecrackers and fireworks throughout the night. Two weeks after official Diwali celebrations are done, Dev Deepavali occurs. This is an even bigger celebration with large processions of Hindu deities through the streets, and ghats lit with lamps.

Deepaoli– Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu celebrates a day in advance due to the Tamil Calendar, which links the festival to the month of Aippasi. Here, the five-day Deepavali celebrations begin with an oil bath before sunrise. This is considered akin to taking a bath in the Ganges. Oil is symbolic of washing off the evil traits in one, such as ego and jealousy. After the bath, people wear new clothes and perform Puja. The houses are cleaned and decorated for the festival, with Kolams, betel leaves and nuts, flowers, and fruits.After these sacred rituals, feasting and merrymaking follow with the snap, crackle and flare of crackers.

Magnificent Deepavali in Maharashtra

While the dazzle of the festival is certainly an element of Diwali inMaharashtra,the celebrations start on a softer and spiritual note. The ritual of Vasu Baras kicks off the festival. Here, an aarti is prepared for a mother cow and her calf, symbolising the love between mother and child. Locals observe an all-day fast, broken only by one meal. Once this ritual is done, the cities flare into life. One of the most popular train stations – Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) is lit up in the glow of Diwali and is magical to behold. 

Each part of India is diverse, though the light unites us all during this festival. No matter where you go, you’ll find Indians celebrating this beloved and sacred festival.

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June 2024