If have been to India, you would realise that Diwali is one of India’s most celebrated festivals. However, due to a large number of Indians in diaspora in other parts of the world, the festival is marked with an official holiday in most parts of the world.
Diwali or Deepavali, as called by the Southern Indians, is the festival of light. It is celebrated to destroy darkness by overcoming evil with good. Diwali is prepared in a traditional way by every Indian, and it is celebrated with India’s long-established customs. In case you haven’t experienced any Diwali celebration in time past, here are some Diwali traditions and customs you should know about.
However, foremost, you need to know a bit about what Diwali is?
According to Vedic scriptures, Diwali was mentioned as Padma Purana. According to the Hindu calendar, Diwali is usually celebrated after the harvest season. Diwali is a five-day-long festival. The first day is called Dhanteras. Indians believe that buying jewellery of silver and gold on the first day brings fortune. The second day, usually the 14th lunar day is called Narak Chaturdasi. Indians light up 14 diyas in the homes this day to ward off evil. On the third day, 21 diyas are lit, and the festival is celebrated with family members. On the forth day, Govardhan Pooja is celebrated in remembrance of Lord Krishna. According to myth, Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhan Hill to protect the people from heavy rain in Vrindavan. Diwali festival ends on the fifth day where Indians observe Bhai Dooj.
This is one of the traditions of Diwali. House cleaning before Diwali is an age-old custom and is believed to attract the Goddess Lakshmi to one’s home. House cleaning before Diwali is not a mere house dusting but an elaborate activity, which involves house painting or repainting, de-cluttering, and re-decoration depending on the available budget.
It is a custom to put on new attires on each day of the festival. So, women in traditional families go shopping. Putting on new clothes is a mark of excitement and respect for the festival. The men usually wear dhoti and traditional kurtas while the women always steal the show because it is their best time to show off their new clothing collection.
If you have been on a diet regime, Diwali is a time you let go of all that. The five-day festival has loads of food, mostly sweets. Laddoo, barfi, peda, and chakli are common during the festival. Most of the sweets used during Diwali are made with broken pieces of dry fruits.
People decorate the porches of their homes with rangoli, a colourful artwork, during Diwali. In villages, people also make rangoli on top of fresh cow dung. Rangoli powder is made with rice powder and comes in several different colours. Rangoli is another way of branding the spirit of festivity.
Exchanging Gifts and Playing Cards
The final common custom during Diwali is exchanging gifts and playing cards, especially gambling. Family members exchange gift amongst themselves, and wealthy urban dwellers also buy gifts for themselves. The festival is also an avenue for family members in the diaspora to reunite while close family members pay visits to one another for card playing, banter, and exchanging gifts! Aside from gambling, other games like poker, blackjack, and Teen Patti are played too.
The traditions or customs observed during the Diwali festival can be summarised as the tradition of fireworks, the tradition of lights, the Diwali gift tradition, – the tradition of Rangoli, – tradition of Diwali Pooja.