Experience the diversity of Diwali celebrations this season.
Line the diyas outside the door. Sweep the dust from every corner. Line up the boxes of sweets to carry to friends and family. Prepare your newest or finest clothes for the occasion. That’s right! Diwali is just around the corner. This is a time for friends and family. A time for celebration and introspection. A display of good over evil. Everyone in India, regardless of religion or caste, revels in the spectacular festival of lights. Homes are lit up, and open, inviting the Goddess of wealth, luck and prosperity – Lakshmi – into their homes and lives.
Of secondary importance, is the actual holiday on Diwali. The biggest and most popular festival for Hindus across the world, also means time away from school, work or the daily grind of life. So, why not take a short trip this Diwali? While you’re familiar with the beloved rituals conducted in your own home and city, you may be surprised at how the festival is celebrated in another part of the country. Here, we’ve listed some of the most fascinating ways in which Diwali is celebrated across the country. So, treat yourself to a new celebration and see Diwali, in a whole new light.
Pathway To Heaven – Odisha
Reflecting on your family’s past? Well, then Diwali in Odisha is ideal for you. During Diwali, Odisha builds a light way in the dark. Tall bamboo poles are put up outside homes, with an earthen pot tied high on the pole, through a rope. Inside each pot is a glowing lamp, adding its lustre to the bamboo shoots. The reason behind this ritual is poignant. The locals in Odisha believe that lighting the dark will help their ancestor’s spirits find their way to heaven. Burning the sticks also encourages the ancestors to shower their blessing on the family before departing.
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Prayers For Maa Kali – West Bengal
You may have spent years worshipping the goddess Lakshmi every year. In West Bengal though, devotees’ worship Maa Kali. Spend 2 days here, worshipping the Goddess of destruction. Maa Kali, according to Bengalis, destroys the past, so that you can look forward to the future. She is also responsible for the destruction of evil and all the illusory elements of life. Most devotees fast during the day. Sometimes they fast without taking a sip of water during the day and then revel in a smorgasbord of sweets and savoury dishes the next day.
Suggested Read : Durga Puja in India- Enlightenment, celebrations and feasting
21 Diyas For Choti Diwali – Bihar
Want to ease into Diwali celebrations? In Bihar, before the grand Diwali celebrations, locals conduct a Choti Diwali. This small and less grand celebration is the day before Diwali and are marked by fewer lights and crackers. Devotees undertake a day-long fast, which can only be broken by the setting of the sun. Then each house lights up with the soft glow of 21 diyas. The next day, devotees bathe in the Ganga, before the main celebrations and rituals start.
Lake Of Shining Waters – Kashmir
Want to be enchanted? Then head to Kashmir to celebrate Diwali. Kashmiri Pundits celebrate Diwali with great spirit and fervour. All the broken and unwanted objects of the house are thrown out. Homes are lit up with a warm glow. Prayers are offered to the Goddess Lakshmi. Sweets, dry fruits and traditional Diwali dishes flow from house to house. However, a celebration of Diwali is considered incomplete without a visit to Dal Lake. Millions of diyas float on the lake’s surface, creating ripples of fire and water. With the snow-capped mountains encircling the glowing lake, this is one memory you want to make and take back home with you.
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Burn Evil, Burn – Goa
Looking for the drama of Diwali? Then head to Goa. Things are a little different here. The legend behind a Goan Diwali involves Krishna’s slaying of the demon king Narkasur using the Sudharshan Chakra. To honour this event, effigies of the demon king are burnt, yet again symbolising the history of light over dark and good over evil. Competitions are often held as to who can create the scariest effigy of the demon, and many of them are huge and extensively decorated.
Recommended read : 50 Interesting Things to do In Goa
Market Mania – Rajasthan
Diwali is the time to throw out the old, bring in the new. It is a festival of wealth and prosperity. So, why not honour the spirit of the festival and head to one of Rajasthan’s markets? Jaipur also hosts a magnificent shopping festival, which includes small and large markets. At each market you’ll find exquisite festive and traditional decorations, along with household items and other appliances. So why not take a little flavour of Jaipur back home for Diwali next year. Each market decorates itself elaborately to outshine the others, making Jaipur a treat for the eyes during Diwali. Head to Jayanti Bazaar, Vaishali Nagar, Chaura Rasta, Raja Park and more and shop till you drop. You can also take part in the Udaipur Light Festival, where you can enjoy performances, music shows by DJs and release a lantern into the night sky.
Grandness At The Ganga – Varanasi
Looking for equal amounts of the spiritual and spectacle? Then Varanasi is the place to be. Diwali whips this city into a fervent frenzy, with the show of firecrackers and fireworks throughout the night. Diwali is usually celebrated with a massive aarti right at the shore of the grand Ganga. The ghats are illuminated with the shy luminesce of diyas and candles, some of which are floated on the river. It doesn’t end there though. Two weeks after official Diwali celebrations are done, Dev Deepavali occurs. This is an even bigger celebration with large processions of Hindu deities through the streets, and ghats lit with lamps. Book a hotel near the river, to witness the pomp and splendour of these occasions.
Cleansing, Celebration, Crackers – Tamil Nadu
Reached Tamil Nadu a day before Diwali? Well, you’ll need to get your festive wear out and ready that very minute. Tamil Nadu is perhaps a step ahead of the rest of the nation when it comes to Diwali – we mean that literally. Tamil Nadu celebrates a day in advance due to the Tamil Calendar, which links the festival to the month of Aipasi. Before celebrations can start, though, locals clean their ovens and fill containers for the following day’s oil bath. This bath usually takes place before sunrise. The ritual is motivated by the belief that an oil bath is equivalent to a dip in the Ganga. Elderly members of the family rub Gingelly oil onto the younger member’s scalps. Some natives also apply a medicinal ayurvedic paste, called Deepavali Lehiyam once the bath is done. After these sacred rituals, much feasting and merrymaking follow. The day is punctuated with the snap, crackle and flare of crackers.
Sweet To Spectacular – Maharashtra
You may be expecting the razzle and dazzle of cities like Mumbai and Pune during Diwali. While that is certainly an element of Diwali celebrations in the state, Maharashtra actually starts Diwali celebrations on a softer and spiritual note. The ritual of Vasu Baras kicks off the festival. Here, an aarti is prepared for a mother cow and her calf, symbolising the love between mother and child. Locals observe an all-day fast, broken only by one meal. Diwali is considered to be a dynamic time in the state, and to counterbalance some of the instability, this ritual is performed. Once this ritual is done, the cities flare into life. If you’re near Marine Drive in Mumbai, don’t pass up the opportunity to witness a spectacular firework show. One of the most popular train stations – Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) is lit up in the shades of Diwali and is magical to behold.
Each part of India is diverse, though the light unites us all during this festival. No matter where you go, you’ll find Indians celebrating this beloved and sacred festival. If you’re in the mood to take advantage of the festive cheer and the holiday season, book a trip to any part of the country with Thomas Cook and experience a different side of Diwali this year.