India is a country with a rich and diverse culture and unique traditions spanning all twenty eight states. With different religions, communities and castes also come different ways to celebrate festive occasions. Diwali is one such festival that is celebrated with slightly different traditions and practices across the country. From Ramlila in North India and UP to Kali worship in Eastern India and West Bengal, unique traditions abound throughout the country. Don’t believe us-read on for our list of unique ways Diwali is celebrated in different Indian states. We’ve covered states from all four regions of India- North, South, East and West.
Diwali in Northern India revolves around the story of Lord Ram’s long awaited return from exile in Ayodhya. The story goes that when Lord Rama finally returned home after 14 years away with wife Sita and Laxman, the townspeople welcomed him by lighting the streets with diyas and fireworks. The occasion fells on a New moon in the month of Kartik and the light helped vanquish the dark of the night. Lord Ram’s return was also symbolic of the triumph of good over evil-Lord Ram over the monster Raavan.
In the North Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar etc, the festival begins with the onset of Dusshera. People across the state also engage in gambling and card parties during the occasion of Diwali in the days preceding and the houses are decorated with diyas in celebration. The day ends with the performance of Laxmi pooja and exchange of gifts and sweets. People also keep the doors of their house open and leave the lights on the entire day so Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth can enter without any obstacles.
In the Western state Maharashtra, Diwali is celebrated over the course of four days. The first day, a unique Maharasthrian tradition Vasubaras is performed. Vasubaras is a festival where cows are worshipped as deities. Another unique tradition, on the third day of the festival, Maharashtrians feast on a preparation of sweets and snacks like ‘karanji’, ‘chakli’ and ‘sev’ which is called faral.
In Southern India, Diwali is celebrated in the Tamil month of aipasi and unlike North India, Naraka Chaturdashi is the main celebratory day. Before the day of Naraka chaturdasi, stoves of the house are cleaned and rubbed with lime. The stoves are also heated with water which is used on the day of Nakarachaturdasi for an oil bath. People also clean their homes and similar to rangoli, decorate the entrances with designs called kolam. In Southern Indian, an additional Diwali tradition is called Thalai Deepavali where just married couples celebrate their first Diwali in the bride’s parental home.
In Andhra Prasdesh, a special tradition called is performed which is essentially the retelling of the story of Lord Hari. In Karanataka, a slightly unique tradition is called Ashwija Krishna Chaturdashi, where people take oil baths in memory of Lord Krishna who washed away the blood of war with Narakasura. The third day of Diwali in Karanataka is called Bali Padyami where women build forts from cow dung are King Bali is worshipped.
In West Bengal, Durga Puja is a special festival and Diwali is called Kali Puja. The streets are filled with pandals or stalls with statues of Kali. Pandal hopping or visiting is a big part of celebrations in Bengal where families dress up to admire the various statues of Kali.