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All you ever wanted to know about Diwali
Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

by Sudha Mathew


Soon the streets and skies will come alive for five days as we celebrate the homecoming of Lord Rama after he vanquished the demon Ravana. It was a moonless night, it is said, when Lord Rama had returned to Ayodhya after completing 14 years in exile and more importantly after fulfilling his raison d’etre.

But how could the hero return in complete darkness, how could the people of Ayodhya not welcome their favourite king in a style that is unique and never done before? It is to honour and rejoice the return of their king that the people of his kingdom lit oil lamps all along the paths in the city. And thus it is said, began the tradition of decorating homes and public spaces with oil lamps to mark the triumph of good over evil. Not to forget the colourful fireworks blazing the night sky. A glimpse of them still brings back the childlike wonderment in adults. Even today, I can easily spend an hour gazing at the sky which turns into a kaleidoscope of myriad hues for five fantastic days.

flowers and lights on diwali celebration

Since that long ago day, this time of the year there is the Diwali celebrations, the five days of the year that all of India looks forward to. The time to be happy, strengthening bonds and cherishing togetherness, the time to splurge, the time to get dressed up in the latest fashions and of course, the time to indulge the sweet tooth. These five days are indeed the time for merrymaking and a little chaos.

While these five days – Dhanteras, Choti Diwali, Laxmi Puja, Padwa and Bhai Duj are celebrated to enrich lives and strengthen bonds, each of the five days comes with a different ideal. Here is some explanation of the five different thoughts guiding the celebration for the uninitiated.

Colors during diwali celebration
Rangoli for diwali celebration

DHANTERAS

The Diwali celebrations begins with some splurging in this season of wealth and prosperity. For many North Indian business communities this day marks the commencement of the new financial year. With high hopes and aspirations, they buy their yearly book of accounts. And for the common man, it is time to buy some gold or silver. A festival to shop for jewellery! Most women don’t spare this golden chance to buy what they love the most. I am not sure whether the investors earn wealth by observing Dhanteras but the jewellery business owners earn a fortune for sure. And so do the clothes shops.

NARAKA CHATURDASHI better known as the Choti Diwali

Truth triumphs over falsehood again. This time it is Lord Krishna over the demon Narakasura. Celebrations start really early on this day, even before sunrise. There is a show of firecrackers in the late night sky till the sun appears with all its vigour on this auspicious day. The most intriguing part of the day is the elaborate bath in the wee hours of the morning. Ladies of the house bathe with utan, a blend of different ayurvedic herbs and aromatic oils. The rest of the day is spent hosting friends and families, and perhaps the brightest part of the day is the exchange of gifts and sweets. People are all geared up for Diwali celebrations the next day.

firecrackers on diwali celebrations
Fireworks dazzling in the sky

LAKSHMI PUJA

Finally it is the big day, the Diwali day. It is time to pay obeisance to Laxmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. While spring cleaning starts at least one week prior, the main activity on the big day is to decorate the home. Rangolis, patterns using powder colours are drawn on the floor, small earthen lamps are lit and flowers adorn the house. Believers’ enthusiasm is at its peak since the Goddess is said to visit only clean and decorated houses. Who would dare not to try and impress her in this season of recession and a mortifying looking world economy?

PADWA

This one is indeed a day for the prettier half. While she is supposed to pray for the health, wealth and prosperity of her man, he is supposed to bestow upon her all his affection through gifts. It is no wonder the favourite part of the Diwali celebration for women.

BHAI DUJ

And now it is time to strengthen the sibling bonds. On this auspicious day the sister prays for the well-being of her brother. The brother is expected to renew vows of protecting the sister from any trouble. It is also another ocassion for exchange of gifts.

designer lamps for diwali celebration
Let there be light

For the rational mind, the mythological explanations for Diwali celebration may have lost its significance. The much awaited five days of Diwali are meant to celebrate life and the good things it has to offer and rightly so. But not everything in those old traditions is irrelevant. Even today at this time of the year, we could rid ourselves of the darkness and negativity that dwells within.

Would you like to visit India and experience the magic of Diwali? Do mail me to plan an unforgettable holiday in India.

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Have a safe and prosperous festive season. Happy Diwali!

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cheers

Sudha

Picture Courtesy:

Decorations for Diwali celebration, Sankarshan

Rangoli for Diwali celebration, Subharnab

Fireworks dazzling in the sky, Vipul 

Let there be light, Paul


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Posted by Sudha at 5:03 pm
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Plan to travel to an Indian holiday destination?

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About me

The wise man travels to discover himself - JR Lowell

 

My name is Sudha Mathew. I'm an ex-banker who quit the rat race after a decade to follow my passion for travel and to combine it with my experience in understanding client requirements and exceeding their expectations.

 

While our content is mostly about the holiday experience, the accommodation and services, there's so much more to a journey. I have discovered a whole new me through travel. So I've reserved this corner of the website to share the unexpected aspects of travel. This space is also to hear from you about your journeys and discoveries. Bon Voyage!

 
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