India celebrates Diwali with diyas, sweets and pujas (Round up)

Friday, November 5, 2010

NEW DELHI - The new moon night twinkled with thousands of diyas and candles as India celebrated Diwali Friday. Traditional fervour, aesthetic rangoli and marigold flower patterns at thresholds, illuminations at houses, and exchanges of sweets and greetings with near and dear ones marked the festivities.

Diwali, also called Deepawali or celebration with rows of lamps, is one of the most eagerly awaited and widely joined festivals across the country. The new moon night sky Friday was lit with bright sparklers and flashes of bursting crackers as well as tiny shafts of light from diyas all over the country - from megapolises to remote hamlets.

In the capital, like elsewhere, the day dawned with people decorating the doorways of their houses with multi-coloured rangolis and marigold flowers. Elaborate prayers to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and Ganesha were conducted in homes and in temples.

Shiva Chawla, who loves to gorge on all the special delicacies that his mother prepares for the occasion, said: “I went to the temple with my parents in the morning. Then we went to our shop in Paharganj, where we conducted the puja. We also distributed alms and sweets among the poor.

“My mother makes lip-smacking poori, aaloo and halwa on the festival every year. My friends too come at my place just to relish the food,” he added.

People, especially children, were excited about bursting firecrackers and lighting sparklers.

While the celebrations have a touch of grandeur in megapolises like Delhi and Mumbai, those less fortunate are not forgotten. People donated clothes, sweets and other gifts to them.

In Tamil Nadu, the celebrations were traditional, with people waking up to the sounds of cymbals and crackers, and smells of various savouries being prepared wafting out of the homes.

People across the state exchanged sweets, savouries and the special Diwali leghium (herbal jam) with friends, neighbours and relatives.

In the Banda district of Uttar Pradesh, the festival as in yore was celebrated in a different manner altogether.

As the day dawned, young men armed themselves with ‘lathis’ (batons) and divided themselves into groups. Waving the batons in the air, the groups ‘charged’ at one another, all in good spirit!

Called ‘Lathmar Diwari’, these baton fights are a tradition in several villages like Triveni, Amratpur Kherwa, Ghacha and Barokha Khurd in Banda, some 200 km from Lucknow.

“It’s an action-packed game that follows a set of rules and regulations - like the canes used by the opposing teams should be more or less of the same size and thickness,” Suresh Richaria, a 32-year-old who has been participating in Lathmar Diwari for the last five years, told IANS over telephone from Barokha Khurd village.

“Teams involved in Lathmar Diwari undergo several months of training…for us the ‘lathmari’ (baton fight) is a part of Diwali festivities, like the usual fireworks and diyas,” he added.

In the midst of these celebrations, people were also taking care to protect themselves from fire accidents.

Although usage of fire-crackers during the Diwali celebrations has reduced somewhat over the past few years, as a measure of security, we’ve told our friends and family members to wear only cotton garments, and to keep anti-burn medicines, lotions at our disposal, said Delhi’s Shiva Chawla.

Celebrations have doubled for the people of West Bengal, as Diwali and Kali Puja this year fall on the same day Friday.

The state saw thousands of people visiting the famous Kalighat and Dakhineshwar temples since morning to offer their prayers to the goddess on this auspicious day.

In Bihar, while people celebrated the festival with great excitement - illuminating their houses with diyas and strings of electrical lights and exchanging sweets - some, like Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, decided to spend the day at work.

According to an official, Nitish Kumar addressed three public rallies Friday during campaign for the fifth phase of the Bihar assembly polls to seek people’s votes on Diwali.

Filed under: Religion

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