The Diwali festivities in northern India are quite extravagant and grand compared to other parts of the country. The festivities, here, continue for around five days. Deepavali is celebrated on Kartik Amavasya, a day later than in southern India, which celebrates the day of Narak Chaturdashi as Deepavali to honor the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon, Narakasura. In contrast, in the north, the festival marks the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya, after fourteen years of exile. Although Diwali is celebrated across the country but one can experience various intriguing variations in the rituals, traditions and legends associated with this festival in different parts of the country. However, the underlying theme of the festival remains the same - the victory of good over evil and the message of hope that no matter how dark it may seem, light shall always come through. The following segment sheds light on the various interesting customs and traditions that are followed while celebrating Diwali in North India.
Diwali Legend in North India
Unlike southern India where Diwali is celebrated to honor the victory of Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama over the demon Narakasura, in the north, the day is dedicated to Lord Ram, his wife Sita and brother Laxman. As per the legend, Lord Rama was the crowned prince of Ayodhya but on the day of his formal coronation, his step mother asked him to leave the city and go to the forest to live in exile for fourteen years. Rama, a dutiful son, obeyed and accompanied by his wife and brother, went to the forest, where the demon King of Lanka, Ravana, abducted Sita. With the help of his trusted aid, Hanuman and an army of monkeys, Rama vanquished the demon and freed Sita. After performing such great feats of valor, when Rama returned to his Kingdom, diyas were lit across Ayodhya to welcome their beloved prince. It is said it was a new moon night of Kartik Amavasya; hence, to illuminate the path of Lord Rama, diyas were lighted in every nook and corner of the city. The tradition still continues on the same day as per the auspicious Hindu calendar.
Celebrations in North India
In northern India, cleaning of houses begins days before Diwali festivities. People get their houses repainted as well as refurbished and dispose of all the broken and unwanted stuff, since it is believed that Goddess Lakshmi, the bestower of wealth and prosperity, visits only those homes that are kept immaculate and well lit. Thus, on the day of Diwali, people decorate their houses with various kinds of lights, ranging from clay diyas to multicolor electric bulb strings. Besides this, beautiful rangolis are also drawn at the entrance of the houses to give a warm welcome to the Goddess. Late in the evening, firecrackers are burst to ward off the evil sprits. The moonless night of Diwali, enlightened by numerous diyas and multihued firecrackers, signifies the victory of light over darkness and bathes the entire atmosphere in an aura of enchanting vivacity.
However, before all the revelry begins, a prayer ceremony dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha is performed on the eve of Diwali. Apart from this, the business community in the northern India treats this festival as the beginning of the new financial year and opens new account books on this day. The markets and shops are decorated with much care and people make record sales during the five day festivities of Diwali as it is considered a highly auspicious time to make monitory investments. Especially on the day of Dhanteras, people purchase gold and silver coins as well as ornaments. Buying new kitchen utensils is also considered a good omen. Since all wear new cloths on Diwali, the sale of garments goes sky high. Family get-togethers and exchange of sweets further enhance the charm of this 'festival of lights'.