Gujarat, a state in Western India, is renowned for its rich cultural heritage and vibrant festivals, with Diwali being one of the most celebrated. Known as the “Festival of Lights”, Diwali in Gujarat is not just a festival, but a grand carnival of lights, colors, and traditions, deeply rooted in the region’s cultural fabric.
The Prelude to Diwali: The Festive Build-Up
As Diwali approaches, the excitement in Gujarat is palpable. Homes are thoroughly cleaned and adorned with lights and rangolis – intricate and colorful patterns created on the floor using colored rice, dry flour, colored sand or flower petals. The markets in cities like Ahmedabad and Surat come alive with shoppers, bustling to buy new clothes, sweets, and fireworks.
Dhanteras: The Inauguration of Prosperity
Dhanteras marks the beginning of Diwali celebrations in Gujarat. It’s a day dedicated to wealth and prosperity. Gujaratis believe it is auspicious to purchase gold or silver articles or at least one or two new utensils. It is considered to bring good luck and prosperity in the coming year. The evening is lit with earthen lamps, and families come together to celebrate.
Kali Chaudas: The Night of Narak Chaturdashi
Kali Chaudas, also known as Narak Chaturdashi, is celebrated a day before the main Diwali day. It’s a day dedicated to the worship of Goddess Kali. Gujaratis believe that by worshipping Kali, they can abolish laziness and evil from their lives. Many perform a ritual called “abhyang snan”, a holy bath taken before sunrise, believed to remove all sins and impurities.
The Main Diwali Night: A Symphony of Lights
The main Diwali night is a spectacle to behold in Gujarat. Homes and streets are illuminated with diyas, candles, and twinkling lights. Families gather for the Lakshmi Puja, worshipping the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. The air is filled with the aroma of delicious sweets like Ghari, a Surat speciality, and savory snacks. The night sky dazzles with fireworks, a delightful sight for both young and old.
New Year Celebrations: Bestar Varas
The day after Diwali is celebrated as Gujarati New Year or Bestu Varas. It is a day filled with joy and new beginnings. People visit temples, wear new clothes, and greet each other with “Saal Mubarak” or “Happy New Year”. The day is marked with social visits and exchanging sweets and gifts with family and friends.
Bhai Bij: Strengthening Sibling Bonds
The fifth day of Diwali is Bhai Bij, a day dedicated to the bond between brothers and sisters. Sisters invite their brothers for a meal and perform aarti, praying for their well-being. In return, brothers give gifts to their sisters as a token of love and protection.
A Festival Beyond Just Celebration
Diwali in Gujarat is not just about celebration; it’s a time for introspection, forgiveness, and spreading joy and love. It’s a time when people pay off old debts, forgive grievances, and make new resolutions. It’s a festival that strengthens community bonds and brings families closer.
Diwali in Gujarat is a blend of spiritual significance, traditional rituals, and joyous celebrations. It’s a festival that exemplifies the vibrant spirit of Gujarati culture. Every corner of the state, from the smallest villages to the largest cities, lights up with joy, making Diwali in Gujarat a truly mesmerizing experience.