One city, many Diwalis | art and culture | Hindustan Times
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One city, many Diwalis

As the Capital celebrates the festival of lights, we look at how the diverse communities in the city enjoy Diwali in their own way.

art and culture Updated: Oct 26, 2011 00:41 IST

As the Capital celebrates the festival of lights, we look at how the diverse communities in the city enjoy Diwali in their own way.

On Diwali, Punjabis start the day by wishing their family members and friends by offering them sweets and dry fruits. In the evening, the children celebrate the festival by lighting candles and diyas. There are four main places where the diyas are lit - a tulsi plant, the washroom, a tap and at a crossroad near the house. The family members then head to the nearby temple. “Though we do the aarti at home, it’s important to visit the temple and light diyas there too,” says Neeru Bhambri, a resident of Lajpat Nagar. After the aarti at home, all the family members eat the dinner together.

It’s a tradition for Rajasthanis to make colourful rangoli on Diwali. The rangoli is made with many colours and decorated with diyas. An important tradition is to buy toys made out of edible rice and sugar, which are then used during the pooja. The pooja starts with the cleaning of the temple. This is followed by lighting the diyas around the temple, which are supposed to be kept burning. During the aarti, it is important to have a gold piece in the pooja thali and a silver coin in the diya. After the aarti, a bhog, made up of rice, bura, ghee and lobia with dry fruits, is served. This is followed by a meal.

The day starts with the family members cleaning the house. During the day time, all the women of the house get busy making the Aipan decoration. Aipan is the traditional rangoli, which sees the feet of Goddess Lakshmi being drawn all over the house, specially at the places where valuables are kept. In the evening, the Lakshmi and Ganesha pooja takes place. This is followed by a Bhajan ceremony. “On Diwali, we make special food such as Pooy and Seengal, a sweet dish made from flour that is first used as bhog and then offered to family members and relatives,” says Mamta Pant, a resident of Noida.

On the day of Diwali, all the women of the house dress up in mekhla chadar and the men dress up in pyjama kurta. The whole house is not lit up with candles, but a number of traditional earthen diyas. “We make it a point to use the traditional diyas and not candles,” says Somnath, a resident of Lajpat Nagar. Some women also prepare sweets like coconut ladoos and burfee at home. In the evening, the family members perform the traditional Lakshmi pooja at home. This is followed by dinner, where traditional Assamese food is prepared. At 12 in the night, people head to the kali mandir to offer pooja.

Just like Punjabis, a Bihari family also starts their Diwali day by greeting family and friends by offering sweets and dry fruits. This is followed by family members drawing the feet of Goddess Lakshmi all across the house using a paste made of rice and water. This particular paste is made colourful by adding alta or moli to it. In the evening, people perform the traditional Lakshmi pooja. They also burn the customary yum ka diya, which is a big earthen diya that is supposed to burn all night long. The women of the house also make kajal with ghee and various herbs, and wear it before sleeping.

Just a day before Diwali, Bengalis prepare a dish made out of 14 kinds of green leaves, and light 14 diyas. As for the festival, it is a big day for the Bengali community for performing Kali pooja. All the members of the family keep a nirjala fast (without water) throughout the day. This fast is not compulsory. But those who keep the fast break it late in the night after the pushpanjali (flower offering) at the Kali pandal. This is followed by a bhog offering that includes - khichdi, mixed vegetable, tomato and dates’ chutney, and rice kheer. The community also visits each others’ homes and burst fi