Diwali, the festival of lights, is one of the most popular and widely celebrated occasions in India. However, the way people observe this festival varies across different regions, cultures, and traditions. Here are some of the unique and diverse ways that Indians celebrate Diwali.
Pathar ka Mela in Himachal Pradesh
In the village of Halog, Dhami, in the heart of Himachal Pradesh, a peculiar ritual takes place during Diwali. People gather at a fairground and engage in a stone-pelting activity. The participants believe that getting hit by these stones will bring them good luck and prosperity. This custom is said to have originated from a legend involving a local king and a goddess.
Kali Puja in West Bengal
In West Bengal and other eastern regions, Diwali coincides with the worship of Goddess Kali, the fierce incarnation of Goddess Durga. Kali Puja is a night-long ceremony that involves elaborate rituals and offerings to the goddess. The devotees seek her blessings for protection, strength, and success. Kali Puja is an integral part of Bengali culture and heritage.
Naraka Chaturdashi in Karnataka and Goa
In Karnataka and Goa, the day before Diwali is celebrated as Naraka Chaturdashi, also known as Choti Diwali. This day marks the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon Narakasura, who had terrorized the earth. People wake up before dawn, take an oil bath, and burst firecrackers to commemorate the triumph of good over evil. They also exchange sweets and gifts with their friends and relatives.
Firecracker hurling in Gujarat
In some parts of Gujarat, especially in the Panchmahal village, a unique and daring tradition is followed during Diwali. People throw lit firecrackers at each other as a form of fun and entertainment. This practice is considered to be an age-old ritual that has been passed down from generations. Although it might seem dangerous, the villagers claim that they do not get hurt or injured.
Ghee-lit diyas in Gujarat
Another interesting custom that is observed in some households in Gujarat is the lighting of ghee-lit diyas throughout the night of Diwali. The leftover residue from these diyas is collected the next morning and used to make kajal, a traditional eye cosmetic that women apply to their eyes. This ritual is believed to be highly auspicious and brings prosperity and happiness to the family.
Dev Deepavali in Varanasi
Dev Deepavali, or the Diwali of the gods, is celebrated in Varanasi, the spiritual capital of India, 15 days after Diwali. On this day, the ghats of the Ganges River are adorned with thousands of earthen lamps, creating a stunning spectacle of light. An elaborate aarti ceremony is performed to honour the river as a deity. Devotees also take a holy dip in the river and offer prayers and flowers.