| Kerala is probably the only state in India where even Hindus
do not celebrate Diwali. In West Bengal, Kali Puja is performed on Diwali, as
it is believed that on this day Kali killed the wicked Raktavija. Being one of
the main festivals of the trader community, markets are gaily decorated and lit
Diwali festival is a four day festival, which includes Dhanteras, Narak Chaturdashi,
Deepawali and Bhai Duja.
Dhanteras is the day, earlier, when people buy new utensils. Dhanteras is celebrated
in honor of Dhanvantari, the physician of the gods. He is believed to have emerged
with a pot of amrita during the samudra manthan. People bathe early in the morning
and observe a fast, which is broken only after sunset with sweetmeats, puri and
other delicacies. On Dhanteras, new kitchen utensils are bought and kept at the
place of worship. The buying of utensils, according to one theory, relates to
the myth of Dhanvantari emerging from the ocean with a pot in his hand. Since
he is also the physician of the godís cleanliness and hygiene are essential to
Narak Chaturdashi is known as Chhoti Diwali (minor Diwali) when in every household
5-7 deep (Diyas) are lit on the door and corners. It is Diwali on a smaller scale,
with fewer lights lit and fewer crackers burst. The morning after Choti Diwali,
the women of the house make beautiful, colored rangoli in the doorway and courtyard.
Tiny footprints made out of rice paste are a special feature of the rangolis made
for Diwali. They signify the footprints of Lakshmi, as she enters the house. In
Hindu homes, Diwali celebrations involve a ritual puja to Lakshmi and also to
Rama in the evening. Songs in honor of the god are sung and arati is performed.
Oil or ghee diyas are also lit. After the puja, the diyas are placed in and around
the house, in the doorway, near the Tulsi plant, the backyard, every room and
the back and front gates. After this, crackers are burst, and people meet friends
and neighbors to exchange good wishes and sweets.
| Diwali falls on the day of Amavaseya, the next day of which
is called Pratipad, when every kind of transaction, receipt or payment and business
On this day, many people try the their luck of gambling.
Bhai Duja or Bhatri Ditty falls on the next day, when the brothers visit their
sisters, out of love and affection. It is a festival when sisters apply talk to
their brothers and pray for their long and happy life. In all likelihood, this
ritual was originally intended only for married women. Since they celebrated Diwali
with their in-laws, this festival allowed them to come to their parent's home
during this auspicious time. They got some time to meet the family and to rest
after the hectic activity of the preceding week. And it gave their parents an
opportunity to give them gifts, an opportunity they did not often get. Nowadays
however, among many communities both married and unmarried sisters observe Bhai
As the time of Diwali approaches, there are grand preparations by young, old,
rich, poor, weak and strong. The buildings, trees, animals, mankinds and statues
are all adorned with colorful lights and costumes. This festive mood fills the
air with great excitement, joy and happiness. Twenty days after Sudsehra, every
house is illuminated on the day of Diwali, to commemorate the return of Rama after
14 years in exile. Cultural programmes and night long fire works mark the occasion.
Crackers and cacophony, color and colorful mood, crowd and chaos, and celebrations
speaks of the joy of Diwali. The dazzle of the occasion ushers in an all pervading
and overpowering spirit of happiness and laughter and an inescapable feeling of