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Celebration and Traditions of Diwali Festival
Diwali as The Festival of Light
Diwali is a very popular festival in India and is celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs of India and Abroad. The festival is also known as the Festival of lights as people light ‘Diyas’ which are lights and candles in and around their homes and burst crackers. This special day this falls on the darkest day of the New moon on the Hindu calendar month kartika. On this day people dress up in their best attires and have fun.
Diwali, derived from the Sanskrit work Deepavali means a string/ series of lights. Diwali is a five day festival but mainly the third night is celebrated with much enthusiasm by all Hindus and is more popular as ‘Diwali’. The five days of the Diwali festival include ‘Dhanteras’ which is the first day of the Diwali celebrations and on this day the goddess of Wealth Laxmi is worshipped. On Dhanteras precious metals are purchased by many Hindu communities as a customary tradition. The second day is known as Naraka Chaturdashi, and on this day it is believed Goddess Mahakali/ Adi Shakti killed Narakasur, a demon. The third day is what we know as Diwali and on this day Goddess Laxmi is worshipped. The fourth day is known as ‘Diwali padva’ and celebrated the bond between Husband and wife. The fifth day is celebrated as Bhau Beej or Bhai Dooj which celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters.
Traditions and Customs during Diwali Celebration
Indians prepare for Diwali beforehand. Gearing up for Diwali includes cleaning their homes and office spaces before the start of Diwali. Many households are renovated and painted during the festive season. People start putting up their Diwali decorations. They also light up their homes with Diyas, candles and electrical lighting too during the celebrations. A fair amount of shopping is done where one buys all household and personal needs like clothing, home furnishing, utensils and jewelry as well as precious metals.
Women apply Henna on their hands as a custom. During the celebrations Gifts are purchased for the family members, friends and colleagues in the form of precious metals, clothing, sweets, dry fruits and more. Hindus wear new clothes on the day of Diwali to celebrate the homecoming of Goddess Laxmi. The women of the household make colorful rangolis at the entrance of their home. Some float Diyas in the water bodies nearby as a customary tradition. The feet of Goddess Laxmi is also made with love using rice flour and vermilion. Family members express their devotion to welcome prosperity into the household in the form of the Goddess.
Many worship Goddess Laxmi on this day, known as Laxmi puja, devotional songs are sung and an aarti is also done offering prayers to Goddess Laxmi. Many people and organizations do not give payments or money out on this day so as to preserve the Goddess in their home. This puja is followed by a grand feast where family and friends come over.
Gifts are exchanged between Friends and Family members and best Diwali wishes for a beautiful and prosperous year is given to everyone. Then some firecrackers are burst. Children and adults burst different types of firecrackers. In many parts of India small Diyas are drifted on water bodies. Some parts of the country also burn effigies resembling the demon Narakasur to do away with Evil and ignorance.
Diwali Recipes and Special items for Diwali
Diwali celebrations are incomplete without food as most households host family get together and invite their friends and colleagues over for Lunch or dinner. Diwali foods are mostly vegetarian dishes for most households as it is considered as an auspicious day. Many mouth watering dishes are made on this day and some of the most popular ones are traditional home cooked dishes like vegetarian Biryani , vegetarian Pulav, Paneer Kofta(Cottage cheese preparation), Navratan korma(made from 9 ingredients and an age old Shahi Recipe) and more .
There are also many non-veg dishes made by some communities like Mutton korma, Mutton and chicken Biryani and more. Diwali also means lots of mouthwatering sweets like Ladoo which is a sweet preparation famous in India and is made from minced dough, flour and sugar along with different items like Besan/ chick-pea flour, wheat semolina, ground coconut and more along with Gulab jamuns.
Some other Indian sweets popular during the Diwali celebrations include Kaju Barfi which is a sweet prepared with Cashew nuts; Gajar ka Halwa which is a sweet dish made from Carrots, milk and sugar; Some popular sweet dishes also include rasgullas (made from Indian cottage cheese in the form of a dumpling), jalebi (flour deep fried and soaked in sugar syrup in the shape of Pretzels/ Circular shapes) and more.
For this special occasion many fairs (melas) are organized and many public celebrations are hosted. The whole family is reunited on this special day and they join in for the Diwali night celebration which is followed by Diwali Padva and end with Bhai Dooj or Bhau Beej where traditionally Brothers would travel to their sister’s home or invite her over to the home and celebrate with the season’s bounty.
Diwali Celebration in different part of India
Not only Hindus but Sikh’s celebrate this day as the ‘Bandi Chhor Diwas’ which celebrates the Freedom of their sixth Sikh Guru, Guru HargobindJi who along with the freed Hindu kings reached the Golden Temple of Amritsar. This special day is celebrated by Sikh’s by lighting up their homes and bursting crackers.
The Jain community celebrates this day as the day when Mahavira attained his Moksha. Some parts of India celebrate the day by worshipping different deities like in the eastern region the Goddess kali is worshipped , some worship the God Krishna. In Karnataka a special entrance is built up using cow-dung and sandalwood to resemble the Peak ‘Govardhan’ and Govardhan puja is also performed on the occasion.
Diwali Celebrations Worldwide
The Diwali celebrations continue till dusk and firecrackers are lit throughout the night and the lights are lit overnight too. This is the most celebrated festive season worldwide too as destinations and countries like Sri lanka, Australia, Pakistan. Myanmar, United States of America, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Netherlands, Canada and more also celebrate this special day by hosting public celebrations and burst firecrackers and host games, fairs and shows.
Diwali for most is an occasion to meet old friends and family members and rejoice with them. Kids are mostly excited because of the firecrackers they burst. Not only Indians but people from different beliefs also celebrate this wonderful day with Indians.