India has always been a very diverse and culturally rich land. Over time these varied cultures have given us some of the most cherished festivals. Every festival celebrated in the Indian culture bears significance and meaning to it. Some have religious/holy beliefs and stories, while some honour the various elements and seasons. Festivals like Diwali, Holi, Baisakhi, Pongal, Onam, Durga Puja, Navratri, Eid, Christmas happen throughout the country with much love and passion. (We have elaborated more in https://www.veenaworld.com/blog/indian-festivals-to-look-forward-to-when-visiting-india) The purpose of every festival has been uniting the communities, bringing a sense of togetherness and belonging. As the regions and states keep changing, the way of celebration also keeps changing. Over generations of celebrations, every household has developed its way of celebrating festivals.
One of the biggest festivals in India is Diwali. Called the festival of lights’ Diwali initially was meant to be celebrated to mark the return of Lord Ram, Goddess Sita and Lord Laxman from Lanka after an exile of 14 years and defeating Ravan. Folklore says that the entire kingdom of Ayodhya had lit up with lamps and therefore started the tradition of calling Diwali in Sanskrit means a line of lights. As a result, Diwali came to be known as the festival of lights. It is symbolic of the victory of good over evil. However, over time, Diwali has garnered importance for various other reasons too. There are some places which are well known for their celebrations. A lot of tourists frequent these places during Diwali. Read along to understand more about these places and how the celebrations happen.
Known as one of the oldest inhabited cities of the world and situated on the banks of the Ganga, Varanasi is one of the main cities in Hindu mythology. Previously known as Benaras/Kashi, Varanasi has been the festival of lights with utmost passion. One of the best times to visit Varanasi is during Dev Dipawali. Dev Dipavali, according to the Hindu calendar, falls on the Full Moon day of Kartik Month. On this day, the Dashashwamedh ghat and all the other main ghats get lit up with a million oil lamps. The whole city comes alive people rush to the ghats to see the Ganga Aarti and later perform deep daan (donating oil lamps in the river). Folklore says that the Gods come to bathe in the Ganga on this day. Varanasi is a place one should not miss during Diwali and Dev Dipawali.
Ayodhya is the birthplace of Lord Shri Ram and is also known as the birthplace of Diwali. Understandably, the city is a whole different vibe during the festival. People describe Ayodhya as a beautifully decked up bride. Like Varanasi, people in Ayodhya paint their homes, light up oil lamps and perform Aratis honouring Lord Shri Ram. Ayodhya got listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for lighting 5.84 lakh earthen lamps during the 2020 Diwali celebrations. You can also devour the local delicacies like rabri, laddoo, chaat, so much more. Ayodhya is a true embodiment of the festival of Diwali.
From Ayodhya, we move to Goa. Although what might seem to be a place of party and nightlife, Goa is also a very traditional state. Diwali in Goa is a one-day festival celebrated on Narak Chaturdashi. According to folklore, a demon named Narkasur was terrorizing people. To end this, Lord Krishna came as a saviour and killed Narkasur. Hence people celebrate Narak Chaturdashi to commemorate the victory of good over evil. On this day, early in the morning, effigies of Narkasur filled with waste and crackers are taken out to parade them around. The parade consists of people throwing taunts and insults at the statue before burning it. These parades are known as Narkasur parades and are a great attraction amongst Diwali visitors to Goa.
While the rest of the country celebrates Diwali, people in Kolkata have a double celebration. Along with Diwali, they also celebrate Kali Puja to honour Goddess Kali. This celebration has a lively feel. Like Durga Puja, Kali Puja is also a favourite festival in Kolkata. That is why there are pandals of Maa Kali all over Kolkata. It enables you to go pandal hopping, bingeing on local delicious food like chat and sweets. You can also visit the ghats in Kolkata to witness the Ganga Arati. People also opt for a small cruise ride on the Hooghly River. This cruise ride offers them a complete view of the lit-up ghats and is a sight to behold. With great food and celebratory spirit, Kolkata is a must-visit destination.
The land of royals celebrates the festival royally. The city gets lit up using numerous lamps and lanterns, with occasional fireworks seen. You can sense a peculiar aroma of the ghevars getting cooked, streets getting filled with last-minute shoppers and happy faces. The highlight of the Udaipur Diwali celebration is Lake Pichola and the City Palace. They decorate the palace with beautiful lights, and these lights make it look more royal. Udaipur has a royal Diwali you should not miss!
Other places such as Amritsar, Manali, Bangalore, Jaipur, Mumbai, Ahmedabad are worth visiting during Diwali. They all have their unique ways of celebration and are just as beautiful. You can set out to explore these places on your own or with locals (if possible), enjoy lighting lamps and lanterns, eating mouth-watering food, go shopping, playing cards, spending time with friends and family. All in all, the whole spirit of Diwali stands for uniting people, forming communities, sharing delicious food and making memories for a lifetime. Everyone should explore India during these kinds of festivals. It makes you learn so much more about the culture and gives you genuine joy. If you wish to travel to any of the mentioned places or know more about our India tour packages, you may refer to https://www.veenaworld.com/india