India is a land of festivals and Diwali is one of the major festivals that is celebrated in a big way across the country. It is more popularly referred as a festival of lights and celebrated with great joy and enthusiasm throughout the country.
A brief history of Diwali:
A little information on Diwali will enlighten you about its significance to the Hindus in India and abroad. It generally falls in the period between mid-October and mid-November although there is no fixed date. It is usually on the no moon day (Amavasya). People celebrate by burning crackers early mornings and late evenings as a tradition to keep to the entire day and night lit up away from darkness.
Deepavali is celebrated to mark the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after nearly fourteen years of exile. It comes about twenty days after Dushera, yet another major celebration in the country. As the name suggests deepavali festival is a row or collection of lamps.
Houses, offices and temples are cleaned, whitewashed and colored. Hindu families buy new clothes and many lit up their houses with color lights. They burn crackers and in the three days of the festival people can witness plenty of sound and lights with different types of fireworks. But unlike in other states, deepavali in Kerala is not a major celebration.
Reasons for Diwali festival in Kerala being a quiet affair:
There are several reasons of Kerala not celebrating Diwali with much zeal.
One primary reason is that Onam is one of the most important festivals of Kerala. It is celebrated about 45 days before Diwali and the Onam celebrations go on for about two weeks. The reasons of Onam celebrations are same as why Diwali is celebrated in South India. So they give preference to the local Onam than to Diwali.
Kerala till a few years back did not have many businessmen. Most of the head of families are from the working class and many work outside the state. Deepavali celebration is mainly done by the business community settled in the state.
Celebration details of Deepavali:
Diwali in most of the northern states of India is spread over three to five days.
One: Dhanteras (18th day after Dushera). considered as an auspicious day and many people buy gold or other forms of jewelry.
Two: Naraka Chaturdashi. (Triumph of good over evil) In Kerala deepavali holiday is given on this day. People visit temples, wear new clothes, prepare sweets.
Three: This is the main festival day. Families pray to Goddess Laxmi (Goddess of wealth) in the evening for health, wealth and prosperity. They exchange sweets with friends and relatives.
Four: On this day it is celebrated as Diwali Padva devoted to the relationship between husband and wife.
Five: Diwali celebration ends on this day as bhau-beej and is dedicated to the love and affection that bonds a brother and sister.
Diwali in Kerala falls one day in advance than in the rest of the country. There are two different theories related to it is to celebrate the victory of Lord Sree Krishna over demon Narkasura (good over evil) while another theory says it is to celebrate Sree Rama’s return from his exile and his victory over Ravana.