Different communities, same flavour

People from across the country have their own special customs and traditions for the festival

The streamers are up, the coloured lights are displayed, discounts and sales have hit the stores and the City is slowly getting ready for Deepavali.

 While everyone is busy shopping and preparing, people from across the country, who live in the City, are celebrating the festival in their own way.

For Saroja Kailasnath, a retired teacher who is a Maharashtrian, the festival is a five-day affair. “Our celebrations start with the Narathachathurathi. It begins with everyone having an oil bath and aarti in the morning — which is customary — followed by greeting each other.” The Lakshmi Puja follows soon after at Saroja’s household and the sweets pour in. “The next day is Bao Dooj, where special festival food is prepared, followed by Akathi, giving importance to family ties,” says Saroja.

Traditions like making sweets at home are still followed by some families. Pooja Poddar, a communications consultant and a Marwari, excitedly shares her Deepavali experience. “We prepare sweets at home itself rather than order from outside, since it is considered auspicious. The festivities start from Dhanteras — which goes on for three days for us — where everyone buys silver or gold, for good fortune. Then follows Chhoti Deepavali and Badi Deepavali.”

Conscious about the increasing pollution, Pooja adds, “Our family has reduced the bursting of crackers, and only burns the light ones now, which don’t cause smog.” Pooja feels that Deepavali is celebrated with a lot more pomp and splendour in the North, but adds that people in the South too celebrate it with their friends and family.

Nishant Shah, a Gujarati, talks about Deepavali at his household. “Like any other household, the festivities begin with the Lakshmi Puja. Idols are brought into the home and new books of accounts are opened this day. Festive food like mohanthaal and magas are prepared at home and we visit family and friends, to exchange sweets, clothes and other gifts. After the Lakshmi Puja, a 10,000-laar (cracker) is burnt, which marks the official beginning of the festival. For us Gujaratis, the day after Deepavali is celebrated as the new year, when we visit temples — and so, the festivities continue till that day,” he shares.

There are others for whom Deepavali revolves around other religious observances. Aninda Chatterjee, director at an IT organisation, details the festivities in the coming week. “For Bengalis, it’s more about the Kali Puja. At the puja held at mantapas across the City, the idol is brought in and then the puja is done — it goes on till midnight or later.

While firecrackers are one aspect of the celebrations, the festivities are mainly about the puja. We have the Deepanvita Lakshmi Puja, and the Bhootchaturdashi, where 14 diyas are lit at the dark corners of the house.”

In Aninda’s family, Bhai Phonta follows the next day and a grand feast is organised afterwards.

Harneet Gandhi, a homemaker, spells out her plans.

“At my house, we mainly celebrate Dhanteras, by buying silver coins. And the day after Deepavali is the day when we read the Guru Granth Sahib, and do ardas, our special prayers, recalling all our gurus,” she says.

 

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