Diwali across Indian states
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Diwali across Indian states

A sneak peek into what Diwali means in various parts of India

Diwali across Indian states

India is a land where nothing remains static for a long time, seasons change every trimester and every few kilometres, we have a different culture and language. In North India, Diwali is the arrival of Lord Ram from a long exile, after being victorious over Ravana to Ayodhya. People lit lamps to welcome Lord Ram and Sita. But what about the east, south and west India?

North Indian Diwali

Let us take a tour of Diwalis around India.

In the northeast, Diwali is celebrated as the Tihar festival. The festival refers to the abundance in nature and celebrates the rich flora and fauna of the region. It is believed that divinity itself visits nature creating an extravaganza of sorts. Just like Diwali, the Tihar festival lasts for 5 days. On the first day, sweets are offered to crows. Crows are believed to bring sad news, and thus people feed them sweetmeats to avert sadness.

Tihar festival: Northeastern Diwali

Colloquially known as Kukkad Tihar, wherein dogs are worshipped and fed with a variety of delicacies on the second day of the festival. Dogs own a special place in mythology and have been a constant obedient companion of humanity. The third day is observed as Gai Tihar.

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Cows, being an important part of our mythology, are worshipped on this day. They are offered food, teeka, panchadeep and sacred threads. It is on this day that families in the northeast perform the laxmi puja.

The final two days of the Tihar celebrations mark the Govardhan Puja and Northeast's version of Bhai Dooj in the form of Bhai Tika.

In the South, Deepavali, also known as Naraka Chaturdashi, is a day-long festival, celebrated to commemorate Krishna’s victory over Narakasura. The South is again vast, with the festival having regional differences all over it. In Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, the day begins with an oil bath at sunrise. People clean their houses and decorate them with Kolam designs: Kolam is similar to rangoli but is made with rice flour. Offerings are made to the God of betel nuts, kullu, gingery oil and turmeric powder. Thereafter, people eat sweets and burst crackers in the daytime.

Diwali in South India

Deepavali also marks the day of the closing of agricultural practices. Thus, goddess Lakshmi is worshipped in the morning.

Some parts of Hyderabad even worship Narakasura, whom they believe was a Dali king and nature lover who was unjustly killed on this day. People erect idols of the asura, sing his praises and mourn his death.

On the Karnataka coast, this day is celebrated with a ritual called Balipadyami. People worship the Asura king Bali who was killed by Vaman, an avatar of Vishnu, on this day. Part of the celebrations include farmers offering food around their paddy fields.

In West Bengal, Diwali coincides with Kali puja, which is the biggest festival after Durga pooja. Kali Puja is a light-up night for Bengal. People decorate their homes with diyas, candles and lights and draw colourful rangolis on the floors of their homes. Children and adults burst firecrackers and burn sparklers throughout the night. A large number of devotees visit the temples to offer prayers to the goddess and animals, especially goats are sacrificed in some places.

Kali pooja coincides with Diwali in Bengal 

The hub of trade and business in India, Gujarat celebrates Dhanteras on a grand scale. In many households, women apply kajal made from the flames of the diyas to bring in some fortune and prosperity. Moreover, people of all religions celebrate Diwali in Rajasthan. The city celebrates it over 5 days with the castles, and monuments gleaning with lights.

A shining Rajisthan on Diwali 

Diwali in Maharashtra begins on the 12th day of the second half of the Hindu month Ashwin, and is called Vasu Baras. Preparations begin way before the actual days of the festival, with women of the house preparing various sweets and savouries collectively known as faral (loosely translated as snacks) along with shopping for the five-day-long celebrations.

Over the years, Diwali has become a major cultural holiday with people celebrating it irrespective of caste and religion. One just has to join the festivities as the markets take a different colour, new exciting offers lure the customers and houses get decorated all over the colony. With the early winter gracing the climate, everything feels more cheerful. India, in its diversity, hosts several Diwalis, each unique in its own way. Every year, it becomes a time of celebration, unity and lights.