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Different strokes: Diwali all over India

Different communities, different traditions... Here’s how the festival of lights is celebrated across cultures in the Capital.

lifestyle Updated: Nov 02, 2013 17:05 IST
Aakriti Sawhney

Different communities, different traditions... Here’s how the festival of lights is celebrated across cultures in the Capital.

It’s a customary tradition for Rajasthanis to make rangoli on Diwali. They decorate it with diyas. An important tradition is to buy toys made out of edible rice, which are then used during the pooja time in the evening. The puja starts with the cleaning of the ‘mandir’ and God idols. The images of Lakshmi and Ganesha are kept in the centre. The aarti begins with a gold coin in the puja thali. After the aarti, a bhog made up of rice, bura, ghee and lobia with dry fruits is served to the Gods. This is followed by a traditional meal.

A Punjabi Diwali begins with wishing family and friends by either visiting their houses with sweets and dry fruits or calling them over. In the evening, all the kids in the house are involved in lighting up the house with candles and diyas. According to some, there are four places where one has to light a diya — tulsi plant, washroom, near the tap and at a crossroad near the house. There is a customary aarti at home where every family member is supposed to participate. This is followed by a hearty dinner.

All the women of the house dress up in mekhala chaddar and the male members of the family dress up in kurta pyjama. The whole house is lit with traditional mud diyas. Assamese usually avoid using the candles. Some ladies also prepare coconut based sweets at home such as ladoos and burfee. They perform Lakshmi puja at home. The puja is followed by a family dinner. At 12 in the night, people head to Kali mandir to offer Kali puja.

The day starts with the regular cleaning of the house and during the day, all the women of the house involve themselves in the Aipan preparation. Aipan is the traditional rangoli where Lakshmi feet are created all over the house and especially at the places where valuables are kept. Aipan is a white paste made with rice and water. In the evening, the grand Lakshmi and Ganesh puja takes place. This is followed by a bhajan ceremony and the evening ends with a grand meal.

A Bihari family will start 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 or moli. In the evening, people perform Lakshmi pooja and then they burn the customary Yum ka Diya, a big earthen diya that is supposed to be kept burning all night long. This is followed by a traditional dinner with family.

For the Bengalis, Diwali means Kali puja and doing the traditional alpana with rice flour — much like the rangoli. All the members of the family keep the nirjala fast throughout the day, that they break in the night at the Kali pandal. Everyone is supposed to visit the pandal late in the night. After the pushpanjali is performed, there is a bhog that is offered to everyone — it consists of khichri, mixed vegetables, tomato and dates chutney as well as rice kheer.