My all-time favorite festival of a year has come. Let me show you how we celebrate Diwali at our home. Also, take you around different celebrations in India among different cultures and geographic locations. Come celebrate Diwali with me in the South Indian Style (Our Traditions, Yummy Sweets and more..)
What is Diwali?
Diwali, or Deepavali, is India's biggest and most important holiday of the year. The festival gets its name from the Sanskrit meaning "row of clay lamps or deepam" that we light outside our homes to symbolize the inner light that protects us from spiritual darkness.
Why is it celebrated?
A typical hypothetical question though. There is plenty number of stories behind the Diwali celebration. Here are few which I was told or aware of:
It is believed to be Rama's return from Ayodhya after defeating Ravana.
Lord Krishna defeated Narakasura.
Lord Vishnu defeated King Bali and sent him to the nether world.
Some believe that it's the time to welcome Goddess Lakshmi who symbolizes wealth and prosperity.
Goddess Kali destroyed the demon.
In Jainism, it's believed to the spiritual awakening of Lord Mahavir.
In Sikhism, it honors the day Guru Hargobind Ji was freed from imprisonment.
Buddhists in India celebrate Diwali as well.
Whatever the reason might be, Irrespective of the religion, Diwali is truly a celebration of the union. Every culture has got its own stories and beliefs. So, let's not get into them deeper and rather enjoy the festive mood.
How is Diwali celebrated?
By bursting firecrackers, lighting diyas or lamps, cleaning and decorating homes, buying new clothes. Rangoli can be seen in most homes during the festival. The streets are decorated with lights. Homes and businesses buy new things during the festival, as this is deemed auspicious. People visit their friends and the homes of relatives, and even neighbors. Prayers are offered to Goddess Lakshmi for prosperity.
The toughest part of the festival comes even before the celebration. Yes! that's cleaning the entire home. This is the time of the year where we tend to discard unwanted things lying for a long time at our houses. We either discard or donate them. Sometimes the entire house is cleaned and white-washed or only the entrance. We also mob the floor with cow dung and decorate with Rangolis. Also, we make light & flower decoration throughout the house.
On a typical Diwali Day @ our home, we follow this itinerary:
Colorful rangoli images can be seen on the floors and Pooja rooms. It is made with flower petals, colored sand, limestone powder, and colored rice.
Mandatory thing! We apply gingelly oil on our heads and take a bath with warm water.
We believe in "Simple is classy". Men at our houses wear a cotton shirt and dhoti. We wear either cotton or silk sarees/Salwars/ Half-sarees. Wear all our favorite traditional jewelry.
"Whichever house-front has got the most of papers has got it all!" - Yes. We too believed in the same when we were young. But growing up made us realize that was wrong and became "Go Green". Instead, we now watch others burst crackers and enjoy.
After taking a bath and before having our breakfast, we head to the nearby temple and make offerings to our favorite God.
After we come back from Temple, we get blessings from our parents, grandparents, and elders at our home to fill ourselves with positive vibes and show our respect. This helps for the rest of the day and also fills our pockets with little bucks which they give as a token of love.
Sweets & Savories
Here comes my most favorite activity. I have a sweet tooth and it turns out to be uncontrollable when it comes to sweets. To encourage this, my granny makes yummy sweets and that's a BIG list.
Some of my favorites are:
As a family, we love to watch the debate show(Patti Mandram) on a popular TV Channel. We can't miss watching this.
Food is always special at our home. When it comes to festive food, it's amazing. We get to eat lots of varieties served on a freshly cut banana leaf.
After breakfast, we take all our gift packs and head to our relatives' houses. Spend time with them, have their sweets & savories, get our return gifts and come back with a lot of good memories to cherish for.
In the evening, before it gets dark, we love decorating our entire house(including terrace) with diyas. That takes a whole lot of time and we enjoy doing it. Photo sessions also happen!
Where else Diwali is celebrated?
Diwali celebrations start early in schools, colleges, and workplaces, a week before the actual festival as people go to their respective native places during the festival.
Diwali is also celebrated by Indians living abroad with diyas, lanterns lighting up their houses and streets. They are not allowed to burst crackers at their residents. Instead, they get to watch the Spectacular fireworks show arranged for them at a common ground nearby.
Diwali is not cheap!
Yes. That's true. ASSOCHAM India has predicted that Indians tend to spend 43% more on the Diwali celebration than the last year. On average, a family will spend around 10,000/- to 15,000/- which was 5,000/- to 10,000/- in the year 2017.
Wear only cotton clothes while bursting crackers.
Always keep a bucket of water & First-aid kit nearby.
Avoid crackers in closed areas.Avoid crackers that are dangerous.
Avoid heavy sounded bombs as they affect the infants, pets, patients and elderly people.
You might ask me if this is the only reason for India's poor air quality. No, it's not. But it's one of the major contribution adding a 1.3% increase in the non-carcinogenic hazard index.
A survey shows 65% of injuries are caused by the Amar/ Flower-pot cracker which leads to class I burn injuries in the country.
To conclude, considering all these in mind, celebrate a happy and safe diwali with family and friends.