Fireworks are selling like hotcakes, sweet stalls are getting overbooked, mothers have already got the menus ready and homes are dazzling with vibrant looks- when you see this picture in India, one can say Diwali is round the corner. Yes, this year Diwali falls on 23rd October, Thursday. The Festival of Lights signifies victory of good over evil, light over darkness, hope over despair and knowledge over ignorance.
Traditional and one of the most awaited festivals in India, Diwali is observed by everyone – irrespective of caste, creed, age and religion – with full gaiety, zest and enthusiasm. This further brings people closer to their near and dear ones and unite for the grand, national festival. Although home is definitely a great place to celebrate Deepavali, you cannot miss the following places to mark this if you are traveling.
West Bengal & Odisha: West Bengal and Odisha are the prominent states that observe the festival in their most unique way. They not only illuminate their houses with earthen diyas, but also light candle in the memory of their ancestors. Sweet dishes are distributed among the neighbors. Particularly in Odisha, there is a traditional practice of burning jute stems to brighten the path that supposedly their forefathers choose to go back to the abode of the Almighty.
Assam: Doing aarti, burning diyas, bursting crackers, decorating entrance of the house with mango leaves, marigolds and flower garlands and making mithais, Assamese have different spirit and essence of celebrating Diwali. Be a guest of an Assamese family, you will be given a distinctive welcome – they draw rangolis to give a warm welcome to guests.
Jammu & Kashmir: Apart from decorating houses with diyas and lights, people, mainly Kashmir Pundits, follow the tradition and keep fast and worship Goddess Lakshmi on this auspicious occasion. The festival starts on Ekadashi and ends on Amavasya.
Delhi: Diwali celebration in Delhi starts right after Dussehre when people without wasting time purchase new clothes, wash their house and participate in various street shows depicting mythical story of Ram killing Ravan. You will also have an opportunity to witness the tradition of burning the evil King Ravan’s effigy. Delhiites do fireworks to demonstrate the annihilation of evil.
Varanasi: Effigies of Ravan are burnt everywhere as a part of tradition. You should not miss the sizzling sight of ghats of Benares. They come alive with hundreds of burning candles.
Punjab: Known as Tikka, Punjabis have another reason to celebrate this grand festival. Guru Hargobind Ji was released from prison on this day.
Bihar: Don’t get surprised if you come across women of the house adorning their doorway and courtyard with gorgeous rangolis and making footprints of the Goddess Lakshmi (signal of prosperity).
Maharastra: Unlike other states, Maharastra observes Diwali for five days. Visit a typical Marathi family only to see the festival starting from Vasubaras, according to Marathi calendar. On this day, cow and its calf is worshipped as vasubaras symbolizes the relation and the love of mother and children.
Gujarat: Compared to the rest of India, Gujarat celebrates this grand festival pretty earlier. The verandas of Gujarati families are depicted with stunning pictures of deities relevant to Diwali. The second day sees Lakshmi and Ganesh Puja. If you can see the entire area from above, you will surely be awe-struck. The whole area is brightened and light and fireworks cover streets, playgrounds and colonies.
The southern part of India has its own style of celebrating the festival. Naraka Chartudashi is said to be the main day of celebration after Lakshmi Puja is performed. Homes are cleaned and oil lamps are lit up on new moon day. The next day is Balipadyami where it sees firecrackers and fireworks. Diwali is the traditional festival of Kannadigas. Kerala observes Diwali in a fascinating style as men, women and kids dressed up beautifully and visit temples to offer pujas to deities.
Diwali is anything but celebration, joy and gaiety. And to be a part of this merriment, you don’t have to be a local. Stay in any corner of India, you are sure to enjoy the Festival of Lights with immense liveliness and passion.