Since India is a land of diverse culture and traditions, different regions celebrate festivals in a unique, traditional way. Diwali, the 5-day long major festival of Hindus is celebrated in different states. The fourteenth day of Deepawali is known as ‘Narak Chaturdashi’ or ‘Chhoti Deepawali’ as it falls a day before the main festival. Different cultures celebrate Narak Chaturdash with great fun and enthusiasm in India. The preparations of this festival begin early in the morning, with the beginning of the dawn. Each state or region observes this festival in a unique manner.
Several Ways of Celebrating This Festival
Women from north India show active participation in this festival. They adorn their house, especially the main entrance with beautiful floor art ‘Rangoli’ in the morning. Colours, flowers, rice flour etc. are used for making Rangolis. It’s customary to make Goddess Lakshmi’s footprints at the main entrance, stepping into the house. People believe it brings ‘Lakshmi’ that is good luck, wealth and prosperity to their homes. Nowadays, tattoos and readymade stickers are available in the market. They perform Lakshmi Pooja in the evening, wherein they sing religious songs and perform special rituals for this occasion. Once the puja is complete, ‘diyas’ or oil lamps are placed all over the house, especially near the, stable or cowshed, water sources, temple, entrance and Tulasi (holy basil) and Neem plant.
The bachelor cult offers their prayers to Lord Hanuman. They apply orange coloured vermillion on Lord Hanuman’s idol, offer him laddus as ‘Prasad’ and seek his blessings.
South Indians have a fascinating way of celebrating this festival. Families wake up before the breaking of dawn. They prepare a body paste by mixing Kumkum in sandalwood paste and oil. They crush a bitter fruit inside the paste. This fruit is symbolic of demon king Bali’s head. They apply this mixture on their forehead and take an oil bath before proceeding away with the puja rituals.
Maharashtra and Central India:
People in central India take early baths with Uptan (body paste prepared using gram flour, sandalwood and essential flower). After completing the baths and rituals, they prepare ‘Kheer’, a traditional dessert made using rice/vermicelli, sugar, milk and dry fruits. It is served alongside curd and puffed rice.
So, this is how different cultures celebrate this festival.