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South India Diwali

South India Diwali

Diwali in North India is different from South India, So much so, that the same festival has different names. The stories behind the Deepavali in the south and Diwali in the north are different.
They call it Deepavali or Narak Chaturdas.I Diwala (Diwali) means bankrupt in Tamil and perhaps so in other south Indian languages too.

Tamils, Telugus and Kannadigas celebrate Deepavali (not Diwali).

Kerala in the south does not celebrate Deepavali.  According to a belief, in Kerala, King Bali’s death is associated with this day. In the south, it is not about Rama returning to Ayodhya, but it is about an Asura (demon) called Narakasura being killed by Krishna or  Kali (Sakthi).
Another reason they celebrate Diwali since it is believed that this is the day the Jain Mahavir attained Nirvana (it was supposed to be on 15 October 527 BCE).

Some 30 years ago or so only a small fraction of Tamils, say like 10-15% of the people, celebrated, even in a big city like Chennai (then called Madras). The number of people who are celebrating it has now increased, but even today, in spite of its popularity,  it is not the majority of the people, who celebrate it.
They don’t really connect or identify with the festival.

 On the other hand, it is the biggest festival of the year in North India.
There a buzz, a vibe of Diwali in this part of the country. It is celebrated for five long days, starting with Dhanteras, Choti Diwali, Diwali, Govardhan Puja and concluded with Bhai Dooj. North Indians celebrate Diwali because of the popular belief, which is, Lord Ram with his brother Lakshman and Wife Sita returned Ayodhya after 14 years of exile.

It’s pleasantly surprising how people of the same country celebrate one festival in different ways because of different beliefs.
This truly reflects the diversity of the nation in an exquisite manner.

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The five day celebration!

The five day celebration!

Diwali celebrations go on for five days and each day has its significance.

Dhanteras :

Day 1 of Diwali begins with the first day known as ‘Dhanteras’ or the worship of wealth. Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped on this day and there is a custom to purchase something precious, usually a metal. People decorate their homes and the festive vibe can be felt all around.

Naraka Chaturdashi or Choti Diwali :

The second day is Naraka Chaturdashi or Choti Diwali. The Hindu literature narrates that the asura (demon) Narakasura was killed on this day by Krishna, Satyabhama, and Kali. The day is celebrated by early morning religious rituals and festivities follow on. People wake up early and apply aromatic oils on them before taking a bath. This is said to remove all sins and impurities. They wear new clothes, offer Puja and enjoy by lighting diyas and bursting a few crackers. It is also called Roop Chaturdashi.

Lakshmi Puja :

The third day is the main Diwali festival. Lakshmi and Ganesh puja is performed on this day. Doors and windows are left open for Goddess Lakshmi to bless people with good fortune. Tiny oil diyas, candles, and electric lights are placed around the house. Families exchange gifts and gather together to burst crackers.

Govardhan Puja or Padva:

The fourth day is Govardhan Puja or Padva. It is the day when Lord Krishna defeated Indra by lifting the huge Govardhan Mountain to save the people from the heavy rain. It is celebrated almost all over India. People make a small hillock, usually of cow dung, symbolizing Govardhan Parvat and worship it. Temples of Lord Krishna are decorated and after the puja, prasad is distributed among the people.

Bhai Dooj:

The fifth and last day is Bhai Dooj. On this day sisters invite their brothers for a lavish meal and perform a ‘tilak’ ceremony. Sisters pray for their brother’s long and happy life while the brothers give gifts to their sisters.
According to the Hindu Mythology, it is considered that the God of death, Yamraj, had visited his lovable sister named Yami (Yamuna) on this special day. His sister welcomed him by aarti and tilak ceremony. She offered him a garland and special dishes including sweets to eat. He had returned her sister a unique gift as a symbol of his love and care towards her sister. At that day Yamraj had declared that the brother who would receive tilak and aarti by their sister, he would never be frightened. That’s why the same day is called the Yama Dwitiya.
According to another story, Hindu Lord Krishna had returned to his sister, Subhadra, after killing the demon king Narakasur where he was welcomed by his sister with tilak, aarti, sweets, and flowers.

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