Diwali Destinations: Celebrating the Festival of Lights Across India
As autumn arrives, a wave of excitement and anticipation sweeps across India. Just two more months before the streets come alive with the sounds of laughter, light and merriment. Homes are adorned with vibrant decorations and Diyas, and the aroma of delicious sweets fills the air. The most anticipated festival of India – Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is on the horizon.
This magical festival, celebrated with great fervour and devotion, illuminates the country in a kaleidoscope of colours and traditions.
Join Phool on a journey through some of India's most enchanting Diwali destinations, each offering a unique tapestry of customs and celebrations.
The Beauty of Diwali: A Festival Like No Other
Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is a festival that transcends the boundaries of religion and region. It signifies the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil.
Its roots can be found in ancient Hindu writings, particularly the epic of Ramayana, which dates back more than 2,500 years. Diwali primarily commemorates the return of Lord Rama, an incarnation of the god Vishnu, to his kingdom of Ayodhya after defeating the demon king Ravana. The inhabitants of Ayodhya used earthen lamps to light up their homes as a celebration of his victorious homecoming, signifying the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness.
The very essence of Diwali lies in its name, which translates to 'row of lights.' And indeed, it's the illumination that steals the show.
Every Diwali, as the sun sets on Diwali evening, countless oil lamps, known as Diyas, are lit in homes and temples, casting a warm, golden glow that symbolizes the inner light that protects us from spiritual darkness. The night sky comes alive with fireworks, and the air is filled with joyous celebrations. The beautiful rangoli, intricate patterns made with coloured powders, adorns doorsteps, inviting blessings and prosperity.
Varanasi: A Spiritual Diwali on the Ghats
One of the most spiritually charged destinations to experience Diwali is Varanasi, the spiritual heart of India. Nestled along the banks of the Ganges River, the city takes on an ethereal quality during the festival. Devotees gather at the ghats, the long steps leading down to the river, to perform the Ganga Aarti, a mesmerizing ritual of offering prayers and lamps to the sacred river. The entire city seems to resonate with chants, bells, and hymns, creating an otherworldly atmosphere that lingers in the heart and soul.
Jaipur: The Pink City Illuminated in Gold
In the royal city of Jaipur, Diwali is a grand affair. The entire city is bathed in golden light as its magnificent palaces, forts, and marketplaces are adorned with thousands of lights. The Albert Hall Museum and City Palace are especially captivating when illuminated. Locals exchange gifts, burst firecrackers, and savor traditional sweets. The charm of Diwali in Jaipur lies in its regal elegance, blending history and culture seamlessly.
Kolkata: A Dazzling Display of Creativity
In the cultural capital of India, Kolkata, Diwali takes on a unique form known as Kali Puja. While the rest of the country celebrates the festival with lights and Diyas, Kolkata pays homage to Goddess Kali, the fierce manifestation of Shakti. The city erupts with artistic creativity as stunning clay idols of the goddess are crafted and displayed across the city. The night of Diwali sees magnificent fireworks lighting up the sky, marking the victory of good over evil.
Amritsar: Golden Temple's Divine Glow
Amritsar, home to the iconic Golden Temple, becomes a sight to behold during Diwali. The entire complex is bathed in the glow of countless oil lamps, creating a serene and awe-inspiring spectacle. Devotees from all over the world gather here to seek blessings and immerse themselves in the divine atmosphere. The reflection of the temple in the Amrit Sarovar (holy tank) adds to the enchantment, making it a truly mesmerizing experience.
Punjab: Bandi Chhor Divas
In the vibrant state of Punjab, Diwali celebrations take on an extra layer of significance with the observance of Bandi Chhor Divas, which falls on the same day as Diwali. Bandi Chhor Divas commemorates the release of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, the sixth Sikh Guru, from imprisonment in the Gwalior Fort. It is a time of immense joy and devotion for Sikhs, and the Golden Temple in Amritsar shines even brighter on this auspicious day. The temple complex dazzles with countless lamps, and Sikhs gather to offer prayers and seek blessings. The heartwarming spirit of unity and the radiant glow of Diwali and Bandi Chhor Divas together create a memorable and spiritually enriching experience in Punjab.
Madhya Pradesh: Tribute to Lord Krishna
Madhya Pradesh, known for its rich cultural tapestry, celebrates Diwali with great enthusiasm and a unique twist – the Govardhan Puja. This tradition pays homage to the legend of Lord Krishna lifting the Govardhan Hill to protect the residents of Vrindavan from Lord Indra's wrath. In towns like Gwalior and Mathura, beautifully adorned cow idols are worshipped as a symbol of Lord Krishna, and intricate rangoli patterns decorate doorsteps. The spirit of Diwali and the devotion during Govardhan Puja unite to create a truly enchanting atmosphere in Madhya Pradesh. Families come together to offer gratitude and celebrate the bond of togetherness, and the melodious sounds of bhajans fill the air, making Diwali in Madhya Pradesh a time of deep spirituality and cultural richness.
Celebrating Diwali with Phool: A Sustainable Affair
As you immerse yourself in the Diwali festivities across India, there's a beautiful way to add sustainability to the celebration. Phool offers Diwali gift boxes that embody the essence of the festival. These thoughtfully curated gift boxes feature a range of products, including fragrant incense sticks, aromatic cones, and essential oils, all handmade from upcycled temple flowers.
Each Phool gift box is not just a token of affection but also a symbol of sustainable living. By choosing these eco-friendly gifts, you contribute to reducing floral waste, supporting local artisans, and embracing a more conscious way of celebrating Diwali. Phool's mission aligns perfectly with the spirit of Diwali, which encourages us to dispel darkness and bring light into the world, both figuratively and literally.
This Diwali may you be filled with the boundless joy of coming together with your loved ones or maybe even exploring the many colours of Diwali. From the spiritual shores of Varanasi to the regal elegance of Jaipur, the artistic fervour of Kolkata, and the divine glow of Amritsar, India showcases its rich tapestry of traditions during this magnificent festival.