The festival of lights is just around the corner, and the city looks all happy and colourful. From malls to markets to residential areas, there is a sense of festivity all around. Delhi, being home to many different communities and cultures, sees people from all over India living here and celebrating this festival according to their own traditional customs and rituals. Here’s taking a at some of them.
On this day, all the women of the house involve themselves in the Aipan preparation. Aipan is the traditional rangoli in which Lakshmi feet are created all over the house and specially at the places where valuables are kept. In the evening, the grand Lakshmi and Ganesh Pooja takes place. This is followed by a Bhajan ceremony and all of this ends with a grand meal.
A Bihari family starts their day by greeting family and friends. This is followed by making Lakshmi feet in the house with rice and water paste. Colours are added to this paste by adding alta (liquid red cosmetic colour) or moli. In the evening, people offer Lakshmi pooja and burn the customary Yam ka diya, a big earthen diya that is supposed to be kept burning all night long.
Rangoli is a must in their tradition. Another important tradition is to buy toys made of edible rice which are then used during the pooja time. The pooja starts with the cleaning of the mandir and god idols. This is followed by lighting the diyas around the mandir. They are supposed to be kept burning all night long.
For Bengalis, Diwali is Kali pooja day. Some members of the family keep the nirjala fast throughout the day that they break in the night at the Kali pandal. Everyone visits the pandal late in the night. After the offerings, there is a bhog that is offered to everyone — it consists of khichri, mix veg, tomato and dates chutney and rice kheer.
All the women in the house dress up in mekhala chaddar and the boys dress up in pyjama kurta. The whole house is lit with traditional mud diyas and not candles. Some females also prepare coconut sweets at home such as ladoos and barfi. They perform the usual Lakshi pooja at home. This is followed by dinner. At 12 in the night, people head to Kali mandir to offer Kali pooja.
People offer sweets and dry fruits to friends and family. According to some, there are four places where one has to light a diya — tulsi plant, washroom, tap and at a crossroad near the house. After this, the family members head to the nearby Mandir. “Though we do the aarti at home, it’s very important to visit the temple and light diyas there,” says Neeru Bhambri, a resident of Lajpat Nagar.