Deepavali, the festival of lights, involves colourful celebrations that offer everlasting joy. The usual events during Deepavali include lighting of clay lamps in the evening, bursting of fire-crackers, tasting the most delicious sweets and get-togethers of family and friends.
However, the festival, which marks the victory of good over evil, is celebrated in a different way at some locations. We can plan a visit to these places to enjoy a unique Deepavali experience.
The entire city would glitter with illuminations on the Deepavali day. Visitors will be amazed by the variety and magnitude of the lighting, which brightens up not only the buildings and shops but also the entire market areas. A contest is held in Jaipur every year during Deepavali to select the market which is illuminated the best.
Thousands of tourists arrive in Jaipur during the festival simply to enjoy the illumination.
The festival is celebrated in Goa to mark the killing of Narakasura by Lord Krishna. A contest is held in every town and village to select the most striking effigy of Narakasura. On the Narakasura Chathurdasi Day, which falls a day before Deepavali, the effigy is burnt.
Goa, which witnesses a variety of festivities around the year, celebrates Deepavali also without inhibitions. One striking feature of the festival in Goa is gambling, which sees a big public participation. Travellers to Goa during Deepavali can also try their luck at the numerous casinos there.
The most attractive feature of Deepavali celebrations in Varanasi is the bursting of fire-crackers. The ancient city never goes to sleep on Deepavali as the crackers light up the sky the entire night. Travellers eager to savour this fireworks display may book a room in one of the riverside hotels in Varanasi. The best views of the colourful crackers can only be obtained from there.
The River Ganga, which flows by the city, also presents unique sights during Deepavali. Visitors can find a spot on the banks of the river and enjoy the views. ‘Ganga aarati’ is a ritual held during the festival which involves lighting earthen lamps (chirag) and floating them along the Ganga. This presents another stunning sight.
While the rest of the country offers prayers to Goddess Lakshmi during Deepavali, the people in Bengal, Assam, Tripura and Odisha propitiate Goddess Kali. Devotees throng the Kali temples in Kolkata during Deepavali and festivities like taking out processions of Kali idols are held in the city. Facilities will be arranged for devotees to pray to these idols. This is a popular event, making all the streets of Kolkata flooded with people during Deepavali.
The Golden Temple at Amritsar is brilliantly decked up during Deepavali and lighted lamps and crackers keep the place alive the entire night. Apart from the Golden Temple, the lamps lighted along the river banks also attract visitors. Travellers can enjoy Deepavali sights at Golden Temple from evening till next morning.
A traveller who wishes to take part in a Deepavali festival celebrated without the accompaniment of firecrackers and lamps can head to a village in Gujarat which is 270 km from Vadodara. The inhabitants of the place are tribal folk, who receive visitors with a truly different Deepavali celebration. They prepare 'rangoli' with items procured from the forest and serve tasty delicacies made with naturally obtained produce.
Facilities for trekking and joining the tribal people in their daily activities are the other activities visitors can engage in during Deepavali.
The celebrations involving the local people are arranged by a company that has won several awards.
Nathdwara village is located about a 50-minute drive from Udaipur in Rajasthan. It is home to the traditional painters engaged in the centuries-old Pichhwai art. Each painting is based on the life of Lord Krishna.
All the buildings in the town will get a fresh coat of paint at least a week before every Deepavali. On the Deepavali Day, a procession carrying the idols of gods will be taken out through the streets. Another interesting event is decking up hundreds of cows and exhibiting them at the various temples in Nathdwara.
As in other places, here too the entire place will be illuminated with lamps and the celebrations spill over to the day after Deepavali, when a special 'Govardhana puja' is offered. This ritual marks the defeat of Indra, the god of rains, at the hands of Lord Krishna.
The ideal time for shopping in Delhi is the Deepavali season. All the streets in the city will come alive with special Deepavali markets during this period. The Dastkar festival, which presents a wide variety of handicraft materials, is among the highlights. In addition are attractions like the Diwali Corner at Sunder Nagar located at several corners of the big city. No shopping freak should ever miss a visit to Delhi during Deepavali season.