Diwali, also known as the ‘festival of lights’ is one of the biggest and grandest festivals celebrated all over India and abroad. Celebrated over five days, Diwali is marked by worshipping of Goddess Lakshmi. Marked on the dark night of Kartik Amavasya, this auspicious occasion connotes the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. Though this festival is celebrated throughout the country, every state and city has certain variations in the rituals, traditions and legends followed there. In the following lines, the different traditions and customs followed for celebrating Diwali in North India are enlisted.
North Indian Diwali Celebrations
Diwali in North India is associated with the legend of Lord Rama. Diwali is observed to mark the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after fourteen long years of exile. According to legends, while in exile, Lord Rama’s wife Sita was abducted by the evil King Ravan. Lord Rama ultimately rescued Sita and killed Ravan. The people of Ayodha lighted diyas all across the city and decorated homes to welcome their victorious Lord Rama. Diyas and lamps were lit along the path to guide Lord Rama in the darkness. Hence, Diwali celebrates the victory of Lord Rama over the evil King Ravan. Here, Diwali is celebrated on the moonless night of Kartik Amavasya which generally falls in the month of October or November.
Customs and Traditions
North India follows the tradition of lighting diyas and lamps, and bursting fireworks and crackers. Houses are cleaned and decorated with colorful patterns called rangolis. People in North India believe that the houses should be cleaned and well lit, to welcome Goddess Lakshmi. While the lights signify a warm welcome to prosperity and well being in the form of Goddess Lakshmi, the fireworks are believed to ward away evil spirits. The fact that Diwali is celebrated on a moonless night also glorifies the significance of the victory of light over darkness. Lakshmi Puja is performed in the evening followed by bursting of fire crackers. Alongside Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Ganesha is also worshipped at this time.
Business communities and traders start the financial year on Diwali, and open new account books for the New Year. On the day of Diwali, shops are opened till the afternoon, as it is believed that a good sale on the day of Diwali would bring a prosperous year ahead for the business. People exchange sweets and gifts to further enrich their relationships. Thus, Diwali is a time of family reunion. Shopping is at its peak during Diwali season, combined with the auspicious occasion of Dhanteras. People purchase gold, silver and utensils during Dhanteras, while on Diwali as a whole, the shopping list includes home appliances, clothes, ornaments, cars and lots of other useful stuff.