Celebrate Diwali 2011 in Kolkata
by Banu Rajanna
Deepavali or Diwali is the much-awaited and immensely cherished festival celebrated with great enthusiasm and zeal. Festival of lights, as it is well known, it marks the triumph of good over evil. It translates to “Row of lights” and is celebrated all over India and abroad by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains.
Diwali, a three to five days extravaganza is celebrated in the Hindu month of Ashwija and Karthik (between mid October – mid November). Each day has it's own significance and rituals. The rituals observed varies from region to region. It is believed that Lord Rama and Sita returned to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile, defeating the demon King, Ravana. Dhanteras, the first day is believed to be an auspicious day to buy gold and people gift “golden leaf” on this day which signifies good luck and prosperity. Naraka Chaturdashi, the second day celebrates the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon Narakasura. This is followed by Lakshmi Pooja wherein Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped for good health, wealth, happiness and wisdom. Bali Padyami or Bali Pratipada is the day when Lord Vishnu, incarnated as Vamana, defeated the demon King Bali and banished him to the nether world (Pathala Loka). On this day it is believed that Bali returns to Earth to dispel darkness, ignorance and spread the radiance of love and wisdom to the people. Bhai Dhuj, as the name suggests, a special day for brother's and sister's is the final day.
A typical day on Diwali in every household starts with an oil bath followed by prayers. Homes are cleansed and illuminated with traditional earthen or modern lamps and decorated with colourful Rangoli. Delicious sweets and dishes are churned out on these days and people partake in the feasting and merry-making. Weeks before Diwali, the entire city is lit up and businesses/shops are flooded with new products with special discounts . No festival is complete without shopping and people engage in shopping for Gold and Silver jewellery , new clothes and other exclusive gifts .
Diwali emphasises the joy of sharing and giving. Like all other festivals, sweets form an integral part of Diwali too. Traditional delicacies and a range of other special sweets and gifts are exchanged with near and dear ones. In recent years amazingly crafted Diwali gift hampers , aesthetically designed home decorative pieces, sweet boxes, Silver and Gold jewellery and other gifts are the hot favourites and make way in the market, months before the festival.
Diwali is incomplete without bursting crackers. It is believed that fire crackers were ignited to ward off the evil away. Deepavali fire crackers hold special fascination amongst people of all age groups. In recent years, there has been a growing alarm about the ill-effects of bursting fire-works during Diwali. Apart from noise pollution, littered streets, the air we breathe also gets contaminated. Many people are now celebrating Deepavali the eco-friendly way by sharing sweets and lighting diyas at home.
Thousands of miles away from their homes, Indian community settled abroad celebrate Diwali with the same fervour and gaiety.
With earthen lamps lit in the courtyards, exploding crackers and delectable sweets, Diwali is indeed a festival that fills the atmosphere with joy, happiness, prosperity and togetherness.
Laila and gang wishes everyone a Safe and Happy Deepavali !!!