Diwali, the festival of lights is coming on 27th October in 2019. This glorious and spiritual festival will be welcomed through open arms by people all over India. The entire nation celebrates it as one but with different methods and traditions. I’ll be skipping the ones that are common across India like decorating the house with diyas and burning crackers. Here are some interesting and unique Diwali traditions followed in different parts of the country. Bet, you didn’t know most of them!
The Diwali celebrations in Maharashtra mainly last for 4 days instead of 5. People of this state start the Diwali celebrations by worshipping cows and their calves as they are believed to be divine. This tradition is known as Vasubaras. On the 3rd day of the festival, which is known as Narakchaturdashi, Maharashtrians bath in scented oil early in the morning and visit a temple afterwards. A sumptuous feast known as Faral consisting of karanji, laddoo, sev, chakli and other sweets and dishes awaits them after this. The fourth and final day, goddess Lakshmi, along with all the gold jewellery and valuable possessions, is worshipped.
Gujarat is the hub of business and trade and therefore, the first day of the festival i.e. Dhanteras has most significance here than other parts of the country. Most new ventures, purchases, opening of offices and shops and even occasions like marriages take place on this day as it is considered auspicious for important new beginnings. In a beautiful ritual, women of some Gujarat households apply kajal made from the flames of a continuously burning diya the previous night. This is said to bring fortune and prosperity for the upcoming year.
Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Other Northern States
This part of India has given the world Ramlila, a stage play of Ramayana. The festival of Diwali enlivens the grounds of northern India with delightful renditions of the story of Lord Ram’s victory over Ravan. Gambling is an activity that takes part heavily in these states as it is considered auspicious during the festival. Though the Sikh community of Punjab do not celebrate the festival, they nevertheless decorate their homes and Gurudwaras. For prosperity, some houses follow the tradition of sprinkling all rooms with a silver coin dipped in milk.
West Bengal, Assam and Orissa
In the eastern part of India, Diwali is celebrated as Kali puja. It can be termed as an extension of the Durga puja (Diwali comes right after Durga puja). People worship Kali Maa late into the night during Diwali. Some parts even build Kali pandals just like during Durga Puja. People of West Bengal, Assam and Orissa also worship the Diwali night as the night of their ancestors or forefathers. They light diyas in a row that symbolise lighting up their ancestors’ route to heaven on this dark night of Diwali.
In Andhra Pradesh, people pray to the clay idol of Satyabhama, a consort of Lord Krishna. It is believed that on the day of Diwali, Satyabhama killed a demon called Narakasura. They spend the day and night narrating and singing devotional stories and songs.
For Karnatakans, 2 days out of the 5 day festival hold most significance. The first day is called as Ashwija Krishna Chaturdashi, where a ritual of oil bathing takes place. The 3rd day of Diwali is called as Bali Padyami. On this day the women of the house draw rangolis and create forts out of cow dung. They also narrate stories of king Bali that are associated with this day.