The joyous festival of Deepavali brings with it a plethora of festivals that prolong its celebrations to five days. During these festivities, various rituals and customs are performed to appease different Hindu deities. Diwali presents a wonderful occasion for the elders of a household to instill religious as well as spiritual values in the minds of their younger generation. Various pujas organized during the festival include rituals, like bathing the idols of deities, cleaning and decorating the household temple, and so on. Prayers to deities like Goddess Laxmi, Lord Ganesha, Lord Yama, Lord Krishna, etc. are offered by reciting Vedic chants and Aartis. Pooja thalis of Diwali are prepared that include all materials required to perform the prayer rituals, such as Roli for tilak, Akshat, Ghanti (bell), a small Kalash filled with water, Kalava to tie around the wrist, gold or silver coins, aarti-diya and some handpicked flowers. Besides these rituals, some of the most prevalent traditions of Diwali are highlighted below.
Tradition of Rolling the Dice
Playing of cards or gambling with family and friends is one of the oldest traditions observed on the night of Deepavali. This tradition has its roots in a mythological legend according to which Goddess Parvati played dice with her husband, Lord Shiva and had a gala time doing so. Overjoyed, she granted the boon of prosperity and year round good luck to all those who played dice on this day. However, today, with the changing times, the dice has been replaced by cards and people often organize card parties on this day as a form of get-together for their near and dear ones. Though gambling is considered a vice, but on this day, people place limited bets in order to honor this age-old tradition.
Tradition of Fireworks and Lamps
Beautifully decorated handmade earthen lamps or diyas are the traditional sources of lighting on the day of Diwali. These clay lamps are painted in multicolor and adorned with various religious motifs that make their appearance, all the more, exquisite. They are filled with mustard or coconut oil and wick and then lit. Lamps are placed on window sills, doorways and in the darkest corners of the house. Setting off of firecrackers is one of the major activities of Deepavali that children and adults look forward to. Fireworks and crackers set the night sky ablaze with a riot of bright colors and light. It is believed that the sound and light of firecrackers wards off evil spirits.
Tradition of Cleansing and Home Decor
People from all sections and society start cleaning their houses days before Diwali. Many get their houses repainted whereas many diligently keep their houses immaculate and throw out all broken, discarded items that accumulate in their premises throughout the year. It is believed that the Goddess of Wealth, Laxmi visits only those houses which are kept absolutely clean. Besides this, huge effort and money is put in for buying various embellishments for the house, like colorful strings of light bulbs, torans, shimmering streamers and ribbons, etc. Intricate traditional motifs, known as rangolis, are made by women at the entrance of the house by using various colored powder and flower petals.
Tradition of Exchanging Presents
The tradition of gifting sweets to family and friends is a wonderful age-old practice followed on Deepavali. This festival presents a great opportunity to people in today's busy lifestyle to take out time to visit their near and dear ones that they've been out of touch with for quite sometime. People present gifts to their business associates and employees as well. Exchange of gifts on Diwali represents wishing each other prosperity for the entire year. Till date, various traditional households prepare sweets for distribution at their homes, rather than purchasing them from the market, which is the trend being followed in large metropolitan cities. Some of the traditional sweets made and distributed on this occasion include Gulab Jamun, Gajar Ka Halwa, Besan Ke Ladoo, etc.
Tradition of Purchasing
The five days of Diwali celebrations, especially the first day of Dhanteras, is considered highly auspicious for buying various ornaments and coins made of gold and silver. Purchasing different types of kitchenware is also considered quite favorable. People buy various kitchen appliances as well as gold, silver, steel and cooper cutlery items. On this occasion, markets are filled with latest gadgets, furniture, clothes, etc. Besides these, people also buy property and vehicles during the festive season of Diwali. This, as per Hindu religion, is considered the most optimum time for large investments.