Diwali Traditions in Western India

Diwali Traditions in Western India

Diwali if translated to Sanskrit means row of lights. Sanskrit is an ancient language that is considered to be the origin for all Indian languages that we know today. It is also one of the most scientific languages in this world. Now we are going to discuss about Diwali traditions in western India. The various states of western India have their own unique way of celebrating this festival. Some popular customs are traditions are discussed here. There might be some more that we could not touch upon as the culture of western India is very diverse and extremely interesting when compared to Northern, Southern and Eastern India.

Western India is mostly involved in business and trade. Unlike South and East India, they are more into business and are good with making money. Diwali is always a day when Lakshmi Puja is done. It is believed that the goddess of wealth visits all the houses on this day. Cleaning of the houses is done. They are also renovated and if some new things need to be bought for the house that too is done during Diwali. Rangoli is an integral part of Diwali all states in the western India. Do Rangoli at the entrance of the house and in the puja area to welcome the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Small footsteps of the goddess are made all over the house.  This is a symbol of wealth coming into the house with the goddess.  Interesting isn’t it. Women do most of these. The heavier rangolis are found in the villages and small towns.

In cities as women are busy with office work smaller and readymade rangolis are more common there. Tiny diyas are placed all across the houses. This is a common practice in almost all houses in the western states of India. Even the poorest put some diyas in their houses. If there is a death in the family then for a year Diwali is not celebrated. This is like a sign of mourning that families follow even today. In the state of Maharashtra apart from these there is another interesting tradition of worshiping the cattle. This is more common in the villages than cities.  In some houses in Gujarat a diya of ghee is left burning whole night. The flame of this diya is collected to make kajal. The women of the house use this kajal and apply to their eyes next day. This is considered to be a very auspicious custom. It is believed that doing this will bring prosperity to the house for the whole year.

As per delicacies are concerned a lot of sweets and snacks are made in the house. This also includes an interesting sweet called Naivedya that is made of coriander seeds and jiggery and is also offered to the goddess.  This is done in the state of Maharashtra. In Rajasthan the delicacies that are specially prepared for this day include besan barfi, mawa Kachori, shankarpara and Jalebi. This list is huge but these are more common ones.

The western India also has a large community of Jains. They follow the religion of Jainism. They believe that on this day their lord mahaveera attained nirvana (the road to eternal bliss). After this enlighten he taught his followers the same. This is why the Jains too celebrate this day with great enthusiasm and devotion. The very popular temple of Nathdwara in Rajasthan too celebrates this day. On this day the deity is washed with milk and then they are made to wear gold ornaments. The bhog made on this day is special and is distributed among the devotees. This is done as this is also known as Govardhan puja in many parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat. This is also the new year day in the state of Gujarat.

Crackers again cannot be left out. In the evening crackers are burnt to spread the joys of this unique festival. The houses are lit up with lights and diyas.  Bhajans and other devotional songs are played in the houses during the aarti. The singings of Bhajans make the evil and the negative energies leave the house. Sweets are distributed among the neighbours and families. Gifts are exchanged and sometimes even cash is given so that people can buy things of their own choice. This is also considered as blessings from elders. Women in the houses are gifted gold. As women are considered as lucky for the house and they are traditionally believed to bring wealth and prosperity to the house.  In Maharashtra people wake up early on the day of Diwali and they take shower after applying a powder made of gram flour and is called Uptan.  This is still followed in many households.

In Rajasthan the forts and palaces are decorated with lights. Fireworks are especially arranged in the evening. Special traditional dances are performed. All this is done to enhance the festivities and also to attract tourists to Rajasthan during this time as it is considered to be one of the most popular tourist destinations in India as well as in the world. In Rajasthan this day is again dedicated in worshiping lord Rama like in the North of India. Mostly people wear traditional outfits during this festival in this part of the country men in dhotis and women in colourful and heavy lahengas. Now a days women also wear saris and men can be seen in pajamas and kurtis.

The stories behind this festival is indeed interesting and it is also heartening that even after so many years and after such great influence of western culture these traditions are still alive and is followed in the cities too. Perhaps it is true that Indian traditions and cultures are so deep rooted that not even time can reduce their effect. This is how Diwali is celebrated in the western part of this very diverse country that we call India. I hope this article will help you to understand the Diwali traditions of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan better and if you are new to this region you will be able to participate in these celebrations more. 

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