Diwali is known as the festival of lights. In ancient era, Diwali in India was celebrated as the main harvest festival. Diwali is the brightest as well as the biggest festival in India. Diwali signifies the victory of light over the dark. Diwali always fall between mid October and mid November. Diwali holds different significance in different religions. Hindus celebrate Diwali to mark the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya. Jains celebrate the festival of light to mark the attainment of moksha by Mahavir, Sikhs celebrate Bandhi Chhor divas on the day of Diwali. Interestingly, Diwali is not just celebrated in India, it is an official holiday in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Malaysia, Singapore, Pakistan, Fiji etc.
Let us now find out about the different ways in which sparkling festival of Diwali is celebrated in different parts of India.
Diwali celebrations in the state of Andhra Pradesh start out at the crack of dawn and carried on very well into the night. People visit temples along with their families to seek blessings of their respective Gods. Houses are whitewashed or repainted and hundreds of Diyas and candles are lit up on the occasion of Diwali. In Hyderabad, a unique tradition of bathing a buffalo on the day of Diwali, is followed. People also decorate their homes with paper figures. Everyone indulges in shopping and sweets are made at homes or even brought in from the markets.
In Assam, a lot of emphasis is laid on lights and the the symbolic message behind the Diwali celebrations, which is the victory of good over evil. All the houses are lit up with with beautiful lights. Worshipping Goddess Lakshmi is an essential part of Diwali celebrations. Rangolis are drawn and chopda pujan is performed. Starting new projects or jobs is considered auspicious on the occasion of Diwali.
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People purchase new utensils on the occasion of Dhanteras and keep them at the place of worship. They bathe in holy water of Ganges, early morning and observe a fast for the whole day which is broken at sunset with succulent delicacies. Choti Diwali is also celebrated a day before Diwali. Lakshmi puja is performed in the evening. A week after Diwali, Chhath is observed where people literally live on the banks of River Ganga and a ritual offering is made to the Sun God.
Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu Kashmir celebrates Diwali much like the rest of the country, they clean their houses and lights up candles and diyas. Diwali is considered an auspicious day to buy new things, so people wake up early in the morning for the ritual bath and purchase sweets and gifts to distribute among their friends, family members and even the underprivileged. Earthen lamps are lit up and placed in temples, cremation grounds, cow sheds and even the court yards.
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As diwali also marks the anniversary of Guru Hargobind Singh Ji being released from the prison of Gwalior fort in 1619 AD as he along with various Hindu Kings were being captivated by Mughal Emperor Jahangir. On this day, entire Golden Temple is decorated with beautiful and colorful lights. The view is truly mesmerizing.
On the occasion of Diwali, people of Rajasthan celebrates the festival with the same enthusiasm and happiness as the rest of the country. They decorate their homes, buy new clothes, perform lakshmi puja in the evening and visit their family and friends and exchange sweets and gifts with them. Main attraction of this festival in Rajasthan is the preparation of traditional Rajasthani sweets like Til ke Ladoo, Piste ki Launj, Moti Pak, Gond ke Ladoo, Feeni, Sohan Papdi etc. Everyone enjoys these in the evening and the city sparks like a dream with all the lights and fireworks.
One of the most beautiful states of India celebrates Diwali with great vigor and gusto. All the walls of the traditional homes are well cleaned and then repainted with white clay and cow dung. All Houses are decorated with sparkling lights and flower garlands. Tales of Ramayan are narrated to the young ones by the elders of the family to let them know all about the festival of lights. Auloos are preserved and exchanged with loved ones along with sweets. Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped and the young ones seeks blessings from the old ones.
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In Tamil Nadu, Diwali celebrations usually starts with everyone taking a traditional oil baths before sunrise. Elders apply oil on the heads of the younger members of the family. In the evening, Kuthu Vilakus are lit in the puja room. Naivedhya of the items are done and after that a plaintain fruit is distributed to every family member followed by betel nuts and betel leaves. Performers of the Pithru tharpanam do not eat rice that night and they will have a second bath. Like the rest of the country distributing sweets, new clothes, crackers etc are also part of Tamil Nadu Tradition.
Rangolis are made at the front door and hundreds of lights are lit up to decorate the house. Entire family gathers to perform Lakshmi Puja in the evening. Diwali is celebrated for three days in West Bengal and on the final day of the festival, Goddess Kali is worshipped and all the lightings are considerably reduced. First two days holds great importance as families get together to feast, drink, gamble, firing crackers that keeps them all occupied. People do not buy anything new on the day of Diwali i.e. No new clothes, gold or utensils infact all the shops except the ones selling fire crackers and sweets, are shut tight.
Orissa celebrates Diwali in a very unique way. Tall Bamboo poles are erected in front of the houses and a handi (Earthern Pots) are tied to poles with ropes. Inside the pot, earthen lamps are placed and raised high using the ropes. A tradition of lighting up Jute stems up the dark path to help ancestors find their path to heaven, is followed. A rangoli of sailboat with seven chambers is made on the ground with different items placed on each chamber. Diwali in Orissa, also remains the festival of light and every corner is lit up with candles and diyas.