Known as the ‘Festival of Lights’ Diwali is the biggest festival celebrated all over India , with everybody getting into the festive spirit with religious rituals, sweets, celebrations, gifts , parties and grandeur.
Similar to Christmas and Thanksgiving it is a time for families to come together in this celebration of life.
Like most festivals in India, Diwali’s date changes from year to year as it’s based on the lunar cycle and not a fixed date. This year (2019) it’s October 27. .
If you happen to be in India during this festive time here are some suggestions which will make your experience absolutely awesome.
Celebrate with an Indian Family.
While you can choose to stay at a hotel but to enjoy an absolutely heartwarming experience, it is highly recommended, if you could opt for a home stay during Diwali. That’s where the most meaningful celebrations take place. You can be a part of traditional Diwali family rituals and Lakshmi Pooja and get a real insight into Indian culture. Since people usually love wearing new dressy clothes for the festival it would be really nice if you could invest in traditional Indian attire.
Enjoy the local markets.
So much of the beauty of the festival comes from the warm glow of lights and lamps which adorn streets, homes, and shops. Most of the Indian cities have dozens of bazaars and special Diwali Melas (fairs) to shop for clothes, trinkets and so many more traditional Indian artifacts.
One of the best places to experience a Diwali Bazaar is in Jaipur Rajasthan, where not just buildings but whole markets are illuminated. Each year, there’s a competition for the best decorated and most brilliantly lit up market, and the government foots the electricity bill. It’s a dazzling display that attracts visitors from all over India.
Go Gambling and Watch Demon Narakasura Get Burned.
In Goa, the focus of Diwali celebrations is on the destruction of demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna. Competitions are held in every village and city to see who can make the biggest and scariest effigy of the demon. Some are really huge! They’re burned at dawn on Narakasura Chaturdashi, the day before the main day of Diwali. And as Gambling being popular activity during Diwali, you could also try your luck at one of Goa’s top casinos.
Amritsar: A Sacred and Golden Diwali.
You may be surprised to learn that although Amritsar, home of the Golden Temple, is predominated by Sikhs; Diwali is celebrated in a grand way there too. The occasion has been incorporated into the Sikh religion and is particularly significant because it also marks the return from prison of the sixth Sikh guru, Guru Hargobind Sahib, in 1619. What’s more, the foundation stone of the Golden Temple was laid on Diwali, in 1577. Expect to see a mesmerizing display of fireworks over the Golden Temple. The temple complex is also draped in lights, and the edge of the lake fringed with countless oil lamps and candles, lit by devotees.
Udaipur Light Festival.
Udaipur is a popular place to spend Diwali with rooftops and doorsteps illuminated by lights, and fireworks over Lake Pichola. Devotees head to Mahalaxmi temple in Bhatiyani Chauhatta to pay their respects to the goddess of wealth. The Udaipur Light Festival is the star attraction. The festival features performances from various singers and DJs across genres, art installations, food stalls, fun activities and paper lanterns.
Celebrate Dev Deepawali in Varanasi.
Celebrated fifteen days after Diwali on the Full Moon night, Dev Deepawali offers a surreal experience, when Varanasi truly seems like an abode of the Gods, not just of temples. Often known as the City of Light, Dev Deepawali is probably a manifestation of this very epithet. There’s a procession of Hindu deities through the streets and the ghats are lined with more than a million clay lamps. With firecrackers and fireworks going off all night long, you have a fabulous view over the Ganges. Other highlights are the special Ganga Aarti, and the ghats illuminated with candles, and diyas (earthen lamps) that are floated down the river.
A word of caution though! Do be aware that air quality unfortunately reaches hazardous levels in Delhi and the north India around the time of Diwali. Hence, if you’re sensitive to air pollution, you may prefer to avoid visiting the city at this time of year or carry a quality pollution mask.
Wishing you all a very Happy Diwali !!