Rangoli – check!
Diyas – check!
Lanterns and fairy lights – check!
Diwali – one of the most prominent festivals of India and that of Hindu culture, is celebrated with much grandeur among various communities in India. Diwali is a diminution of its Sanskrit name – Deepavali. Also known as the “festival of lights”, it is a five-day celebration wherein families get together, friends indulge in merry-making, light diyas and lanterns, as well as overindulge in sweet delicacies. This festival is celebrated on Amavasya or ‘no moon’ day.
Although the essence of the festival stays the same across the country, Diwali traditions and activities vary from state to state. Every Indian welcomes the divine festival of Diwali with open arms. Irrespective of different cultures and backgrounds, the nation comes together on this auspicious day. North India celebrates Diwali as Lord Rama’s homecoming to Ayodhya after defeating the Demon King of Lanka – Ravana. On the other hand, Western India celebrates this festival for over a fortnight and honors the Goddess of wealth – Lakshmi. In Eastern India, Diwali is associated with Goddess Kali and diyas are lit to commemorate the souls of departed ancestors. Southern India celebrates the festival of lights for three days where people begin the day with an oil bath before sunrise, have sweets and newlyweds spend time at the bride’s parental house.
Diwali is also celebrated by Indians all over the world with great enthusiasm. Every year, the White House observes Diwali or “Indians Christmas” with great honor and respect. Australia and New Zealand also celebrates the festival with cultural performances, fairs and carnivals. Other countries like Malaysia, Fiji, Singapore and Europe also celebrate this festival.
During the five-day period, homes are lit up with diyas (clay lamps) and fairy lights. Inside homes, one will find rangoli art or traditional designs on the floor created out of coloured powder or rice powder. It symbolizes the welcoming of the Goddess Lakshmi, thereby bringing wealth, prosperity and happiness into the homes. The holy land of Varanasi celebrates Dev Deepavali, known as the Diwali of the Gods. Buying gold during the day of Dhanteras which is around Diwali is considered auspicious. Neighbors, friends and families exchange gifts. Sweets & dry fruits happen to be the most common gifts besides others. It is also a time to share with those in need and give freely to members of the community who have little. The air is filled with the smell of ‘agarbattis’ or incense sticks, burning crackers and the aromas coming out of the kitchen. Another attraction to the Diwali celebrations are the various rich savory and sweet dishes. While eating out is popular, families will mostly prepare food at home when guests are invited to exchange gifts and watch fireworks together. We asked the LMers in India to share their Diwali home decoration and family photographs while they were celebrating Diwali. We loved the vibrant photographs shared by our fellow LMers, the amazing rangolis and their happy faces.
Written by Bheeni Kapoor & Arijit Patra