Diwali, aka Divali and Dhiwali, is one of the world’s most beautiful festivals. Hindus celebrate Diwali to mark the story of Lord Rama over the Demon King Ravana. Lord Rama rescued his brother Lakshman and his beloved wife Sita, who had been abducted by Ravana and to mark their return, the people lit diyas (earthen lamps), thus symbolically praising the victory of light over darkness. The word Diwali is actually derived from the Sanskrit word “Deepavali”, which translated means “row of lamps”. When people observe Diwali, it is literally, the Festival of Lights. The festival takes place in India and around the world, between mid-October and mid-December. It is a joyous occasion and there are some wonderful places to celebrate Diwali – here’s a few:
1 Diwali in Amritsar, Punjab
Preparations for Diwali start usually few weeks in advance – people devotedly clean and decorate their homes with flowers and leaves, as well as with other charming items made out of blends of color and powder, known as “rangolis”. The smells of numerous dishes and sweets that will be offered to celebrate Diwali pervades the streets. Everything suggests that there is something important going on, but the culmination of the ceremony takes place on the Diwali evening, when the magical Golden Temple of Amritsar gets illuminated by thousands of diyas and candles reflecting on the water, and the lavish fireworks streak across the night sky.
2 Diwali in Delhi
As Rama’s wife Sita is one of the incarnations of Lakshmi, the goddess of both spiritual and material wealth, the celebration of Diwali is also being thankful for the material goods that we are blessed with. It becomes especially obvious in Delhi, in the days preceding the Diwali. People flock to commercial centers of the city and enjoy special shopping offers. Gifts, new clothes, firecrackers and sweetmeats – there are so many things to be bought to celebrate Diwali (one of the reasons the Festival of Diwali is likened to Christmas). On the very day of Diwali, the drama about the life of Lord Rama is performed on several stages across the city.
3 Diwali in Jaipur, Rajasthan
If it is hard for you to believe that there can be more than two thousand different forms of earthen lamps, you should visit Jaipur when the city is dressed to celebrate Diwali. The market places are full with diyas in forms of various animals, birds, and, of course, cherished deities. Apart from diyas, you can also find abundance of other festive stuff, like firecrackers, local products and handicrafts.
4 Diwali in Kolkata, West Bengal
Kolkata has its own version of Diwali which occurs at the same time as the Kali Puja, the celebration of the goddess Kali, the Hindu goddess usually associated with the creative power. The day before Puja, the whole city is lightened with candles, colorful electric bulbs and diyas in order to celebrate the beginning of the important day at midnight.
5 Diwali in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Varanasi is sometimes called “the city of lights” – are there better places to celebrate Diwali than here? Nearly one hundred Varanasi Ghats, the steps leading to holy Ganges River, are illuminated by the light of thousands of diyas, making the Diwali evening spectacular and unforgettable for all participants.
6 Diwali in London
The celebration of light, joy and renewal is not reserved only for India and Hindus – people of all religious and national backgrounds celebrate Diwali on the streets of London, exchanging gifts and sweets and lighting hundreds of earthen lamps. It is time to cultivate family values, friendships, and other bonds within the community. There are several venues in London where you can attend various Diwali events during the festival days, including a mass gathering in Trafalgar Square.
7 Diwali in Cape Town
The Festival of Lights has become the festival of joy of life in Cape Town – if you find yourself there at the end of October, you can enjoy a number of music events, dance performances, fashion shows and the Diwali fair, where you can taste delicious traditional dishes or buy an authentic souvenir. As Diwali is the festival of lights after all, prepare yourself for magnificent fireworks.
Besides all the earthen lamps, candles and fireworks, we should also remember that esoterically, Diwali primarily invites us to put our own lights on. Do you have a Diwali Festival somewhere near the place you live?