There is absolutely no doubt that Diwali remains the most celebrated festival in India, but the way of celebrating it varies from place to place. If you think that Laxmi Puja, rangolis, good food and lighting up diyas are the only characteristic traits of Diwali, then read on to know more about how different regions celebrate this joyous festival.
We all know that Ma Kali, a more aggressive avatar of goddess Durga, is wildly worshiped by Bengalis. In West Bengal, on the night of Diwali (Amavasya), various pandals are set up to worship Ma Kali. Often, some form of sacrifice is also made (goat or chicken) and the people indulge in festival delights by feasting on sweet dishes like sandesh. Unlike North India, Bengalis perform Laxmi Puja five days after Dussehra, thus on the main day of Diwali, Ma Kali is worshiped to ward off evil spirits.
Diwali celebrations in Maharashtra start on ‘Vasu-Baras’, a day prior to ‘Dhanteras’, where calves and cows are worshiped. Instead of Govardhan puja, most Marathis perform what is known as ‘abhyanga-snaan’ wherein wives perform a ‘puja’ for their husbands and in return receive gifts from them. Most households are beautifully decorated with jasmine and rose flowers. If you happen to be in the state, don’t miss on the scrumptious eateries. Do try anarsa, kadboli and laddoos.
Most southern states in India celebrate Diwali in a similar manner, but Tamil Nadu surely stands out. Since performing grand prayers and chants is quite popular in South India, Diwali comes to be celebrated as a lavish affair wherein various Gods and Goddesses are celebrated in a magnificent manner. The first day starts with celebrating wealth and worshiping Kubera. On the second day, Naraka Chaturdashi is celebrated. On this day, it is believed Lord Krishna killed the monster Naraksura. Tamilians build an effigy of the monster and burn it thus, symbolizing the death of all that is evil. On the day of Diwali, most people bathe with sesame oil, since it is said that Goddess Laxmi is found in it. Coconut barfi and Payasum are some of the delicacies that are a common sight in the households.
Gujarati’s sure know how to light up a festival. As in North India, Diwali in Gujarat is celebrated lavishly. The mark of Diwali is also celebrated as New Year here, therefore any event taking place within this time period is considered to be auspicious. A visit to the temple on the main day of the puja is customary. If you plan on celebrating Diwali in Gujarat, do try out their sweet dishes Shrikhand and Basundi.
The hometown of Lord Rama, Diwali celebrations cannot get any bigger than here. Locals in Ayodhya celebrate Diwali by abiding to the age-old practices and customs. On the auspicious day that marks the homecoming of lord Rama, the day is marked by a visit to the temple for the morning aarti. The previous day is celebrated as Hanuman Jayanti and a big prayer meeting takes place in the temple. On the eighth day after Diwali, a parikrama is performed by the residents of Ayodhya. As legend has it,Lord Rama had asked the people of Ayodhya to vigil the boundary of the kingdom in fear of an impending fight. The custom is performed till date and is highly taken pride in.