Diwali is a five-day festival that holds utmost importance for most of the Indians. It is a festival of lights, which symbolises the victory of good over evil. People burst crackers, decorate their homes with diyas, candles and fairy lights, exchange gifts and sweets as well. On this day, goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha are worshipped. And, everyone dresses up in their best clothes.
In almost all regions of India, Diwali celebrations begin with dhanteras. The second day is narak chaturdashi, which is celebrated by smashing fruits and bursting crackers. This symbolises the end of the evil demon, Narakasur. Lakshmi and Ganesh puja follows next. The fourth day is padwa. It is considered to be an auspicious day for the commencement of anything new. The fifth day is bhai dooj. However, there are a lot of other things that people do to celebrate this festival in their own style. Read below and see how people from all over India celebrate Diwali differently.
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For North Indians, Diwali is a very important festival as the place of Lord Rama’s birth lies in this region. Lord Rama hails from Ayodhya, which is in Uttar Pradesh. People here believe that he, along with his wife, Sita and brother, Lakshman returned home in the month of Kartik, on the night of a new moon, after fourteen years of exile.
To welcome Rama, Ayodhya was brightly lit with diyas and candles by the people. This custom of brightening up the homes is still followed till date. It is a night when firecrackers are burnt. The idols of goddess Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth) and lord Ganesha (the god of wisdom) are worshipped.
In North India, people also indulge in playing cards on Diwali.
Unlike North India, in South India, Diwali is celebrated a day before amavasya (new moon); in the Tamil month of aipasi on the narak chaturdashi tithi. Narak chaturdashi is the main day, here. The preparations begin a day before that. Ovens and stoves are cleared, and lemon juice is smeared over them. Firecrackers and diyas are kept on plates, to be used the next day.
People make rangolis. On the day of narak chaturdasi, people take an oil bath before the sunrise and wear new clothes.
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In Tamil Nadu, Thalai Deepavali is the first Diwali celebrated by newly married couples in the bride’s parental home. They light the first firecracker, visit the temple and receive gifts. In Karnataka, Diwali is called Bali Padyami as it is remembered in the name of King Bali. The celebrations continue until tulsi maduve.
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Diwali celebration in the Eastern part of the country is just like anywhere else. Candles and diyas are lit, firecrackers are burst, and sweets are distributed. But, there is one thing that is unique to the Orissa region. On Diwali, people call upon the spirits of their forefathers. This ritual begins by lighting up jute stems. This is done to illuminate the path for the spirits, so that they can go back to heaven.
People in West Bengal and Assam offer their prayers to goddess Kali a day before Diwali. Even pandals are put up in different localities of West Bengal with Kali idols. Fireworks are burst on this day only. Here, they keep their windows and doors open as they believe that goddess Lakshmi visits every house on Diwali. She avoids dark and abandoned places, so the lights are always on after dark.
For the inhabitants of Western India, the preparations for Diwali begin weeks ahead. West India is a very colourful region, and so are their celebrations. A day before the Diwali, colourful rangolis are made. Small images of footprints of goddess Lakshmi are made that enters in the house.
In Gujarat, the third day is marked as the New Year. The fifth day is bhau beej, which celebrates the brother-sister relationship. This day is celebrated as bhai phota in West Bengal and bhai dooj in North India.
India is a diverse country, and so are its celebrations. And, this is what makes every festival so beautiful. So, have a Happy Diwali!