India is a culturally rich and diverse land with deep rooted customs and traditions. The colorful and vibrant array of festivals celebrated here signifies some or the other virtue, right from righteousness to courage in the face of darkness. One such vivacious and important festival celebrated across India with great reverence is Diwali; the festival symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness. In North India, it is celebrated to commemorate victory of Lord Rama over the evil demon King Ravana and his return back home after an exile of 14 years, whereas in the South, people celebrate the day to mark the victory of Lord Krishna over Narakasura. In the eastern states, especially in Bengal, the day is venerated as a day on which the fierce Goddess Kali vanquished the demon named Bakasura. Though the reasons of celebrations might be different, but the underlying theme and traditions remain the same. Some of the most fascinating and prevalent traditions of Diwali are given here. Read on.
Rolling the Dice
As per the Hindu mythology, it is believed that playing dice on the day of Diwali is very auspicious, the reason behind it being the legend according to which, on this day, once Goddess Parvati played dice with her husband Lord Shiva and enjoyed the game thoroughly. Delighted, she declared that 'whosoever plays dice on this day shall be bestowed with a good fortune throughout the year'. With the passing of time, dice has been replaced by cards and people often, to honor the age old tradition, organize card parties on this day, where friends and relatives get together and indulge in friendly gambling matches with limited stakes.
Lighting Up Fireworks and Lamps
As per Diwali traditions, illumination of houses is a must to invite the goddess of good fortune into one's home. And the traditional way to do so is by lighting handmade earthen lamps. On the day of Diwali, these multicolored lamps are filled with mustard or coconut oil and wick. Once the prayer ceremonies dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha are completed, these diyas are lit. These ethnic and exquisite earthen lamps are placed on window sills, doorways and in the darkest corners of the house. Bursting firecrackers is one of the most joyous and looked forward tradition of Deepavali. The night sky glitters with numerous sparkles of firecrackers and their sound resonates throughout the night. It is believed that their sound and light wards off evil spirits.
Cleansing and Home Décor
People from all walks of life begin to clean, repaint and refurbish their homes depending on their budget. Even the most economically challenged person will definitely try to keep his/her abode absolutely immaculate during Diwali. This tradition is based on the belief that Goddess Lakshmi graces only those homes that are absolutely skip and spam. Other than cleanliness, people also put in a lot of effort and time in decorating their homes with embellishments, such as strings of light bulbs, torans, shimmering streamers and ribbons, etc. Colorful and vibrant traditional motifs, known as rangolis, are drawn with great finesse at the doorways using colored powder or flower petals.
Exchanging of Presents
Presenting Diwali gifts to one's friends, relatives and acquaintances has become one of the most important traditions of Diwali with every passing year. Traditionally, just boxes of sweets were gifted; however, with numerous gifting permutations and combinations available in the market, right from electronic appliances to food baskets, one can present anything and everything under the sun to their loved ones. On Diwali, people give gifts to business associates as well as employees. Many people still prepare lots of sweet delicacies at their homes to distribute on this occasion, which includes Gulab Jamun, Gajar Ka Halwa, Besan Ke Ladoo, etc.
The festive season of Diwali is considered highly auspicious for making various financial investments. The day of Dhanteras is considered perfect for buying gold and silver coins as well as jewelry. People also shop for various kitchenware on this day, especially utensils made of gold, silver, steel and copper, which are considered a good buy on this occasion. Throughout the five days of Diwali festivities, markets are beautifully decorated and filled to brim with latest gadgets, furniture, clothes, etc. which people do not just buy for themselves but also for gifting purposes as well. Besides this, people also prefer to buy new property and vehicles during this time of the year.
There are many intriguing and interesting traditions and customs related to the festival of Diwali.