India is a huge and diverse country with 29 states and 7 union territories, totaling 36 entities, each having its regional languages and traditions. Diwali, or Deepawali in Sanskrit, literally means “a row of lamps” and is the most special celebration among India’s heterogeneous people and the Indian diaspora. Diwali is observed by Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs worldwide, while the religious importance and traditions vary by area. Diwali’s fundamental spirit is found in the spiritual triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.
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Diwali is referred to as the “Festival of Lights.” A few days before Diwali, homes, offices, and stores are adorned with diyas, little earthen receptacles that hold oil and a cotton wick and are lit to ward off evil. Brightly colored sand and seasonal flower petals are used to create intricate patterns and designs. In honor of the holiday, the night sky is always filled with fireworks.
Diwali celebrations in northern India center on Lord Rama and his victory over Ravana. Lord Rama spent fourteen years in exile, during which time the ten-headed demon Ravana kidnapped his wife, Sita. Lord Rama and his brother Laxman and the devoted devotee Lord Hanuman fought an epic battle against Ravana and saved Sita. When Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya, the village was completely lit up with lamps to illuminate his path. This ritual is still carried out in the northern regions of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Bihar, Delhi, and the neighboring territories, where gigantic effigies of Ravana are burned down. In North India, Diwali begins with ‘Dhanteras,’ two days before the real celebration. People buy gold, silver, or copper utensils on this day because it is considered auspicious. Dhanteras is followed by ‘Chhoti Diwali,’ and then Diwali with its magnificent celebrations. The afternoons are devoted to beautifying the dwellings, while the evenings are dedicated to Goddess Lakhsmi and Lord Ganesha. Before decorating, homes are completely dusted, cleaned, vacuumed, and turned inside out! Families then join together to make beautiful rangolis and diyas, candles, and flowers that are placed throughout the house. The light and color of the house are intended to welcome the goddess Lakshmi and her blessings for money, prosperity, and family tranquility. On this day people also exchange Diwali gifts with their loved ones.
Diwali is celebrated in Southern India during the Tamil month of aippasi Naraka Chaturdashi tithi, which precedes Amavasai. The primary day of Diwali celebrations in this area is Naraka Chaturdashi. The day before, the oven is cleaned, coated with lime, and religious symbols are drawn on it before being filled with water for the next day’s oil bath. Individual homes are cleansed and decorated with kolam patterns similar to rangoli patterns in North India. Fireworks and new clothing are kept on a dish to be utilized the next day. The actual ceremonies of Naraka Chaturdashi begin with an early morning oil bath before daybreak on the morning of Naraka Chaturdashi. Following that, sweets are consumed, and new clothes are donned.
Not to be outdone, West India celebrates Diwali and the arrival of Goddess Lakshmi in grand style. Making Rangolis is an essential and holy aspect of Diwali celebrations in all western Indian states. To welcome goddess Lakshmi, families create intricate and colorful Rangoli designs at the front door and in the puja area. The deity leaves little footprints throughout the house. The impressions of her footsteps represent money entering the house with the goddess. Maharashtrians perform Lakshmi Puja in their houses and host a “Faral” feast. In some areas of the state, people perform ceremonies to worship their livestock. People’s homes are adorned with rangolis and diyas, as well as a kitchen brimming with sweets and munchies! The giving of a delicacy called Naivedya to the goddess is a fascinating practice. It’s a tasty dessert made with coriander seeds and jaggery. On this auspicious day, people also Distribute Diwali sweets & Diwali gifts for friends among their family and friends. It is also extremely usual for individuals to get up early on Diwali to bathe after applying a gram flour powder called Upton. Gujaratis have two reasons to rejoice! Not only is it Diwali, but the day also coincides with the Gujarati New Year, making it highly fortunate. Some Gujarati households keep a ghee diya blazing all night. The flame remnants are collected and used to produce kajal the next day.
Many people in Eastern India think that having their doors open on Diwali will allow Goddess Lakshmi to enter their houses. As a result, everyone lights up their entire house with diyas and lamps. Diwali is known as Kali Puja in Bengal. On this day, people make offerings to Goddess Kali of fish, meat, hibiscus flowers, and other items. Kali Puja is usually performed overnight in numerous pandals. It is a massive event at Kolkata’s Kalighat and Dakshineshwar temples. On the auspicious holiday of Diwali, the people of Odisha worship their ancestors in heaven. On this day, people burn jute sticks to seek blessings and good fortune.