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
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
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
"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."