India is such a big country, so the religious significance of a single holiday can vary significantly from north to south. Diwali is commemorated in north India as the day Bhagwaan Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana returned from exile. In south India, however, Diwali commemorates Bhagwan Krishna’s assassination of asura Narakasura. Diwali in the south Indian calendar is generally a day earlier than the Diwali celebrations in the north.
In the south, the Diwali festival celebrates the defeat of Asura Naraka, a strong Assamese monarch who imprisoned tens of thousands of people. Krishna was the one who eventually defeated Naraka and set the hostages free. The Tamil month of aipasi (Thula month) ‘Naraka Chaturdashi tithi, which precedes amavasai, is used to celebrate Diwali. The day before, the oven is cleaned, coated with lime, four or five kumkum dots are applied, and then it is filled with water for the oil bath the next day. The home is cleaned and adorned with kolam (rangoli) designs using Kavi (red oxide). Betel leaves, betel nuts, pineapple fruits, flowers, sandal paste, kumkum, gingelly oil, turmeric powder, and scented powder are kept in the pooja area. They are arranged in a dish after putting a little kumkum or sandal paste on the crackers and new clothes.
Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka & Kerala
Starting your Diwali celebrations with an oil bath is a great way to get things started in South India. Some parts of Diwali festivities are shared by both, such as eating sweets, lighting firecrackers, and dressing up in new clothing. Furthermore, the Diwali festival in south India includes a few distinct features, and one example is the early morning oil bath routine. The goddess Mahalaxmi is said to have been concealed behind a sesame tree, according to legend. As a result, sesame oil is utilized in this ceremony. Before daybreak, the family’s eldest member anoints the heads of the other family members with three drops of sesame oil. The oil is then washed away with shikakai. This ritual is as sacred as bathing in the Ganges, and it symbolizes a new beginning when egos, jealously, low self-esteem, and conflicts have been removed. However, in Kerala Diwali is not a grand celebration unlike other south Indian states.
Famous Dialogue on Diwali in Households
On this day, people commonly greet one another by saying, “Ganga Snanam Aacha?” or “Have you had a holy bath?”
Rice powder and turmeric are stored in the pot used to heat the oil a day before Diwali. The stovetop is cleaned, and lime spread. Religious symbols also surround it. Sesame oil, turmeric, betel stem, and caron seeds are added just before the oil bath to replace the rice powder and turmeric. Lakshmi Maa is served this after it has been heated. Naraka Chaturdashi or Deepavali precedes the Amavasai day. One day before the festival, the kitchen is cleaned, and then the stove is smeared with lime. Rangoli is drawn on it.
King Bali – Karnataka
Diwali is also a day of devotion for King Bali in Karnataka’s coastal areas. Balipadyami is the name of the ceremony. Farmers celebrate jubilantly and distribute food across their paddy fields as part of the custom.
Rituals and Celebrations
Deepavali celebrations begin in the early morning. Sesame oil is applied to the heads of all family members by the eldest family member. Then it’s time for a bath, starting with the family’s youngest member. They appear in new attire, and their faces lit up with excitement at the prospect of exploding crackers, which represents the demon king Narakasur’s death.
Lehyam (a medicinal preparation):
But first, there’s Lehyam, the bitter concoction, to cleanse the body of its holiday gluttony! Then it’s time for the crackers.
In the morning, puja is done for the family deities. Murukku is a sweet dish, and, of course, idli or dosa is served for breakfast.
Some people say that as Narakasur was about to be slain, Lord Krishna asked him his final desire, and Narakasura answered that he intended to spend his last day in style. Therefore Diwali was observed, and that was the start, and the practice has persisted since then.
Lamps are lit, and crackers are exploded in the evening. There is no shortage of fireworks in Tamil Nadu because most of the cracker production plants are located here. The newlyweds visit the bride’s parents for Thalai Deepavali festivities. People burst the first crackers of the day after receiving blessings from the elders. Typically, many crackers are purchased, with prices ranging from hundreds of rupees to millions of rupees. Visiting the temple, presents, clothing, and jewellery, feasting on sweets, and receiving blessings from elders are all part of the Diwali celebrations. The groom’s parents, brothers, and sisters all come down to celebrate with him.
Wishing Happy Diwali to one and all is the most auspicious practice in South India!
Written by Seemaa Eathirajan