Tuesday, 1 December 2009


Everyone searches for happiness. It is second only to peace of mind in importance for the people of our time. Happiness is elusive, and many of us have only caught glimpses of it over the years. Some of us have given up and decided that happiness is something that is simply not possible for us as we “live in the real world.” It is one of the things we want most in life, and at the same time one of the things we have the least amount of.Most people view happiness as an external process. When our wants and needs are met, we are happy. It is that simple. When we find a large sum of money, when that cute student in our class smiles at us, or when we get a promotion at work, we are happy. When we are able to buy that new car, when we have exciting experiences while on vacation, and when our children take their first steps, we are happy. When we wear our favorite clothes, eat our favorite foods, or spend time with our favorite people, we are happy.The problem with obtaining happiness in this way is that when something changes with the external person or thing that we are hanging our happiness on, our happiness suddenly disappears. When our wants and needs are not met, we are not happy. When that large sum of money we found is rightfully claimed by another, when we discover that the cute student isn’t interested in us, and when someone else gets the promotion we thought we deserved, we are not happy. When we drive that new car for about a year and the newness wears off, when our vacation doesn’t turn out quite as we hoped, and when our children are rated the lowest in their classes, we aren’t happy. When our favorite clothes no longer fit, when our favorite foods are prepared differently than normal, and when our favorite people begin to change in undesirable ways, we are not happy.In all of these instances, we are only happy when things work out the way we expect them to. However, when you think about how many things in your life went the way you expected them to, you’ll find that there are very few occasions when that was the case. Most of the time, things go very differently than the way we think they should. The only thing we have control over is ourselves, and yet, we are putting our happiness in the hands of everything outside of ourselves. We set ourselves up for misery, as things go the way they will go, and we believe they should have gone a different way.True happiness is not the result of things going in the way we think they should be. True happiness is an attitude that you bring to everything that you experience. In that way, regardless of what’s going on in your life, you can keep that internal sense of happiness, which will make all of your life’s situations easier to deal with. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that when you get laid off from your job, a friend of family member is having a tough time, or you fall and hurt yourself that you’ll have an ear to ear grin. What I am saying though, is that you will not have that “down” feeling that many walk around with all the time. You will not allow these events to change your internal sense of happiness. In fact, your internal sense of happiness will change how you see these events.True happiness is the result of a decision to be happy, regardless of what’s going on in your life. Happiness has eluded you all this time because you have not made this decision. When you make this decision, you are also in effect making many others. You are deciding not to base your self worth on other people’s opinions. You are deciding not to take things so personally from other people. You are deciding to find the lesson in every experience you have in life. You are choosing to be appreciative of everything you have, and everything new that comes into your life. You are choosing to give yourself permission to relentlessly pursue those things and experiences you wish to have in your life.We have all seen these individuals. They are undeterred in the face of the worse life presents them. They wake up happy, and remain happy all day long. When people are angry and taking it out on them, they see an opportunity to help make that person feel a little better. When they are laid off from their jobs, they see opportunities for better positions, career changes, or a time to become an entrepreneur. They seem to always find something they can take away from every situation that allows them to keep their internal happiness. They understand that when things don’t work out, it doesn’t make them bad, stupid, a failure, insignificant, wrong, or anything like that. They understand that while some things could have been done differently, it doesn’t define who they are. They and they alone define who they are.For those saying that this is easier said than done, you are right. No one said this would be easy. Understand that you can do it though, if you choose to. Your happiness and your unhappiness are YOUR decisions. It is easier said than done to live a life of unhappiness, but you are doing that right now. Personally, of the two choices given, I choose to do whatever it takes to be happy from the inside out than to do whatever it takes to make everything outside of myself work out the way I expect them to be happy. The first places control in your hands, while the second removes yourself from control, and gives it to everyone and everything you encounter.
This is the art of living, the aim and object of our existence. Without happiness, life is dry and meaningless. With happiness, life immediately becomes fulfilled and wonderful. Happy people keep themselves happy because they know how they tick, they know the little ways to appreciate themselves and to see the humour and magic in each moment. Those people who are a bit heavy, who take life too seriously, may lose their happiness also.
When we wonder what we are doing sometimes, what we are pursuing or searching for, it is helpful to just ask, "Well, will this bring me happiness?" Because the ultimate search of all human beings, the ultimate goal in life is to be happy. We purse this goal in all manner of ways, whether it be through leisure, careers, wealth, relationships or whatever the means, the tendency of the soul is towards being happy.
Another good question to ask is "Why do we lose our happiness?" What makes us take the wrong path and lose our inner state of buoyancy? When we pursue limited, superficial or false goals, it is very easy to lose happiness. Firstly, because we are not being true to the self, and secondly, because we may build up false expectations that are not met through our goals and activities. Similarly, we expect happiness to come from the outside, from relationships, from food, from possessions, from travel. Yes, these are forms of happiness, however limited, yet they are only temporary.
The soul is innately happy and in its most powerful state has a good stock of happiness-We spend the power of happiness in much the same way that we spend other thins, whether it be time, energy or money. We lose happiness when we contravene the spiritual and natural laws.
The repercussions of anger, attachment, greed, ego and desire are that we lose our peace and happiness. The more that we are driven by these forces, then the more we will spend the stock of happiness.
How is it possible to increase the stock of happiness? Firstly, be true to the self, know the self and be the self. Then understand what brings happiness to one's self, it is positive thinking, it is working and fulfilling worldly responsibilities, it is doing something creative? Once we have understood the happiness that comes from within and as a result of the manner in which we conduct ourselves and our lives, then it is possible to understand how to share that happiness with others. Benefiting the self on a spiritual level will definitely bring internal happiness, resolving past karma, mending broken relationships, making amends for the past - living according to the divine laws of karma - these all bring a measure of self respect and happiness.
Seeing the best in ourselves and in others is also a form of happiness. Good wishes and pleasant feelings towards other people gives them the life of happiness, but we need to feel these feelings of ourselves first. Then we can share what we have and give this to others. Increasing the happiness of others brings happiness to the self, but this cannot be an escape - that is, it is not a substitute for creating internal happiness. People with a naturally happy disposition are sunny and pleasant to be around. They will attract others with their positive attitude and uplift the mood of anybody who is feeling a bit low. In the same way, the genuine laughter that comes from true happiness is infectious and brings happiness to all.
Just remember, don't worry, be happy!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Siruvachur Maduraikaliamman

Today's temple visit is the most famous place which is quite dear to me in many ways.This temple is my ancestors temple and also our kulatheivam.This temple and the amman here brings a sense of peace to the mind that searches it.The town of Siruvachur is loacted near Perambalur in Tamil Nadu, around 50km from Trichy. The main deity at Siruvachur, Madhurakali, is an epitome of beauty and grace. Unlike the usual Kali with a face fuming with anger and tongue sticking out, the Devi here is calm and serene.
The temple is known for protecting people from demonic forces and evil elements. In the times of yore, a board existed on the border of the town of Siruvachur claiming thus, “In the holy town of Siruvachur, ruled over by MadhuraKali, no form of evil will be allowed to exist. Eval, Billi Soonyam, Kaathu Karuppu will all fail to work and backfire on the originators. People with evil intents are warned from entering the town.” Even today, the temple happens to be on the top of the list of ways to counteract black magic and other similar stuff. I would strongly recommend people who doubt that they are being hindered by evil forces to visit this temple and take refuge in the shadows of Her holy feet. She will protect us all.


Kannagi was a young woman of legendary beauty, as devout and chaste as she was beautiful. A fitting match was made when she was given in marriage to Kovalan, a wealthy merchant from KaveriPattanam. Life was a bed of roses for the loving couple until fate came in the form of Madhavi, a strikingly beautiful danseuse at the court of the Chozha king Karikaalan. Kovalan was at once enamoured by Madhavi’s dashing looks and totally forgot that he too had a wife, as beautiful and chaste. Lust took over the man’s senses and he started living with Madhavi.
Back at KaveriPattanam, Kannagi was heartbroken over the news of her husband staying in with a danseuse, but nevertheless she continued living as his wife, offering prayers for the well being of Kovalan, wherever he was.
Kovalan stayed with Madhavi for a year. Over the period, his lack of interest in trade made him loose all his wealth. He had spent all that he had had in pleasing Madhavi. Madhavi soon bore him a daughter whom they named Manimekalai (another epic in Tamil is based on this daughter of Kovalan and Madhavi). At the end of the year, totally devoid of any wealth, Kovalan’s senses managed to kick in and he realised what he had done under the influence of lust. He begged Madhavi to forgive him and rushed back to Kannagi, who welcomed him back with open arms.
The reunited couple decided to go to Madurai and start a new life all over again. Kovalan planned to restart his trade in the prosperous Pandian kingdom. But having lost everything, he had nothing to capitalise on. It was then that Kannagi came to his rescue once again and gave him one of her anklets. The anklet (silambu) was an exquisite work of art. Made out of gold and filled with precious rubies, it was worth a fortune. Kovalan reluctantly took it to the market place to sell it for a suitable price.Unfortunately for Kovalan, the queen of Nedunchezhian, the king of Madurai, had had one of her anklets stolen by a greedy courtier. The anklets were very similar to Kannagi’s except for the fact that they were filled with pearls rather than rubies. So when Kovalan attempted to sell the anklet at a goldsmith’s place, the goldsmith immediately accused him to be the thief of her majesty’s anklets and promptly turned him in to the guards. Nedunchezhia Pandian, in a towering fit of rage over the fact that a theft had taken place in his prosperous city, ordered the guards to behead Kovalan without even holding a trial. Kovalan was beheaded and his head rolled onto the sands of madurai.
Kannagi on hearing the news was overwhelmed with anger and grief. She at once took her other anklet and marched onto the court of Nedunchezhian. There, in front of all the assembled courtiers, she challenged the king, “Pandia, in the land that is reigned over by the Goddess Meenakshi, you have committed an act of grave injustice”.The King was shocked, “Pious lady, pray, what fault have I done? Why are you calling me unjust?”
“You have beheaded an innocent man. Your hands are soaked with the blood of a man who knew no harm, who knew no crime.”
“That man stole my queen’s anklets. He deserved to die. In this prosperous land of Madurai, which is overwhelmed with the blessings of the divine couple, no crime will be tolerated.”
“You fool, the man was innocent.”, screamed Kannagi, her eyes were red with anger.
“How do you know that? Do you know the man? Can you pove he is innocent?”
“What is the use, his life cannot be returned,” cried Kannagi, her voice chocked with grief. “He was my husband, my god, my everything. And those anklets he tried to sell were mine, not the queen’s.”
“Aaaah, nice story. How can a poor woman like you have such an exquisite anklet?”
“Base man, unjust king, behold this.”, she screamed and took out her anklet. The king was shocked. “The queen’s anklets are filled with pearls, but here is mine, the other of the pair, filled with rubies. Rubies, the colour of the innocent blood on your hands.” And she threw down the anklet. The anklet broke and rubies burst out of it. “There, do you see? Your act of injustice. You killed an innocent man. You have slipped in your duty as a king. Do you deserve the crown and the umbrella and all the other paraphernalia?” Kannagi shouted, her voice thick with anger.
The king and queen, could’nt bear the injustice that they had done and right there in front of Kannagi, they gave up their life. But Kannagi was not satisfied. She was burning inwards at her loss, at the injustice she had been subjected to. She tore off one of her breasts and flung it to the ground, “If I have been a true Pathivratha, then let this entire city of Madurai be reduced to ashes. The burning that I feel, let it burn up the city too.” she cursed.

And at once, tall flames burst up in the city. The whole of Madurai was burning, fed with the power of Kannagi’s chastity. People ran helter skelter and buildings just crumbled down into ashes. Finally, the patron goddess of the city, requested Kannagi to stop the raging fires. Kannagi agreed to the divine request and withdrew her curse. Badly burnt in the fires herself, Kannagi left the smouldering city of Madurai and proceeded northwards.
Near the city of Trichy, Kannagi came across a devi temple and decided to rest there for the night. The temple’s presiding deity was Chelliamman, fondly referred to as Chelli. Kannagi went into the deserted temple and prepared to rest for the night. It was then that something strange happened.
Chelli came out of the sanctum and said “Lady, I request you not to stay here.” she said to Kannagi.
Kannagi was astounded, “Devi, why are you asking me to go away. Are’nt you supposed to protect us?”
“Child, you dont know the situation. I am a powerful goddess, yes. But now I am bound to serve the whims and wishes of a cruel magician. He won my favor with his intense devotion towards me. And when I granted him any boon that he could wish for, he wanted me to be his servant, obeying his tiniest commands. By the power of my own boon, I am bound to him. He uses me to do all his wicked deeds. If he finds out that you have been here, he will surely kill you. Thats why I beseech you to go away as soon as possible.”, explained Chelli.
Kannagi was moved by Chelli’s problems and promised that she would help her to get out of the same. Kannagi and Chelli planned to kill the wicked magician. As night fell, Kannagi withdrew into the sanctum along with Chelli. She invoked her family deity, Kali, to help her in vanquishing the magician. Kali granted Kannagi all her powers to kill the evil sorcerer.
Soon the magician came by and ordered Chelli to come out. But to his great surprise, Kannagi sprang out and with one sweep of the sword she cut his head off. Before dying, the sorcerer made a final request that he sould have his samadhi in the very same temple and all the devoteed should stamp on him for all the evil that he had done. Kannagi granted him his final wish. Chelli too was freed from the bond and was happy beyond all measures.
Chelli looked at Kannagi, her eyes full of gratitude, ” Kannagi, I am so grateful to you for what you have done. I want you to stay over here forever more and protect the people of this village of Siruvachur. This place is mine no more. In this village, under your powerful rule, no deeds of evil can take place any more. People with evil intentions cannot even enter the village. Billi-soonyam, black magic and Devilic tantras will not workout here. Protect all of the people who come in search of refuge from the evil forces. I will now retreat into the forests of Periyasami hills. You are always welcome to visit me over there.”
Kannagi was overwhelmed with happiness and promised Chelli that she would do her best to rid the world of evil. “I will bless your devotees and mine with protection from all kinds of evil. But I will be down here only twice a week, on mondays and fridays. The other five days, I will be with you, up on the summits of Periyasami hills. I also request that you accept all the offerings and poojas at this temple before I accept them”, she said.
Chelli agreed to Kannagi’s conditions and left to her new abode at the Periyasami Hills
And so, Kannagi took over the seat of Chelli at the temple. She came to be known as Madhurakaliamman, since she had come from Madurai and had gotten rid of the evil sorcerer with the grace of Kali. Several other explanations are also given for her name. Soon, word of her power spread far and wide and people started pouring in. The town of Siruvachur became famous for the grace and protection of the presiding deity and has remained so ever since.

The temple is open only on mondays and fridays, as was commanded by Kali. All the other days it is believed that Madhurakali amman retreats into the Periyasami hills to spend time with Chelli. The temple teems with thousands of devotees on these two days. At every pooja, when the arathi is being offered, the priest first lifts the arathi upwards in the direction of Periayasami hills, offers prayers to Chelliamman and then only proceeds to worship Madhurakali.

In front of the main sanctum is present the samadhi of the evil sorcerer who had commaded over Chelli. The devotees stamp over the samadhi in the rush during the pooja, as had been requested by him. Also, it is believed that all the priests at the temple are descendents of the sorcerer. It is believed that Kali keeps a close watch on them so that they do not, in anyway, inherit the evil mind of their forefather.And so remains Madhurakali, in the village of Siruvachur, granting solace and refuge to all her devotees who come to her in times of need, just like she had protected and solved the problem of Chelli eons ago.


The temple is situated on the chennai-trichy route.

Buses from chennai to trichy passes through this place.It is very near to permabalur.

From Trichy:
1) Trichy – Othiyam (Via) Padalur, Perambalur, kalpadi.
Maruvathur , Perali W/S: Perambalur and othiyam

2) Trichy and Perambalur (Via) padalur.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple

Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple is one of the most celebrated Hindu shrines of Kerala. The temple is located in Chottanikkara town, 17kms away from Ernakulam. Rajarajeswari (Adiparasakthi) alias Durga Bhagavathy - the mother Goddess, is the presiding deity of the temple. It is said that this deity was brought from Mookambika Temple in Kollur, Karnataka and therefore there is a presence of Mookambika (Saraswathy) Devi till 7am in the morning.
The temple situated in a hilly region, is surrounded on all sides by green farms. The entry is through the west and the spiritual atmosphere in the temple gives mental peace and harmony to devotees.
In the main temple, the golden hued idol of Bhagavathy 4 to 5 ft. high, is bedecked with flowers, garlands, jewels and bathed in myriad of lights splendidly. The idol has four arms. The upper right holds the disc, the upper left bears the conch, the lower right hand is held in a boon-conferring pose and the lower left indicates the abhaya (fearlessness) pose. The Bhagavathy is worshipped in three different forms as Saraswathy in the morning clothed in an impeccable white garment,Lakshmi at noon with crimson red cloth and Durga in the evening wearing a bright blue dress. Durga is a much milder form. The original idol of Bhagavathy, three or four feet high which faces east, is of laterite and is believed to be self-born (swayambhoo). This image called 'Rudraksha Sila' is irregular in shape, red in colour and is untouched by the human sculptor. This image can be seen only in the wee hours of morning at 4 am when the Nada opens for nirmalyam.
Adjacent to the image of Bhagavathy, to her right, there is an image of Mahavishnu in granite on the same pedestal. Vishnu and Bhagavathy together are referred to as Lakshminarayana. The deity is also called Ammenarayana, Devinarayana and Bhadrenarayana. Along with Lakshmi and Narayana there are idols of brahma, siva,ganapathi, subramanya and Sastha on the same pedestal.The idol of the deity in the temple is not fixed to the ground. Hence the area around the pedestal is full of loose sand. Water offered during ablution ceremonies percolates underground. It is believed that the water flows underground and joins the tirtha of the Onakkur Bhagawati temple, one and half furlongs away.A platform known as 'Pavazhamallithara', where the deity is believed to have made her first appearance, is on the south of the main temple. Siva shrine is on the south-west. Nearby is the images of Nagas and yakshi can be seen.Kizhukkavu, a shrine to Bhadrakali is outside the main temple on the eastern side. The one-foot granite idol of Bhadrakali facing westward is said to have discovered by Vilvamangalam Swamigal, a saint associated with this shrine. It is said that Vilvamangalam had retrieved the idol from the tank which is in front of the shrine. It is believed that worshipping bhadrakali here will exorcise evil influences, psychological ailments, evil spirits etc from devotees.The famous pooja Valiya Guruthy, which means great sacrifice, is performed in kizhukkavu on every night at about 8.45 p.m by the chief priest. Guruthy is a solution prepared out of turmeric and limewater which looks like blood.. It is believed that being present here during this pooja on Fridays permanently cures women suffering from mental abnormalities like schizophrenia.
The annual festival (ulsavam)of the temple comes in Kumbham of Malayalam Era. i.e in February- March. It begins with Kodiyettu (Flag hoisting ceremony) on Rohini day, lasts for 7 days and ends on Uthram star. A special feature of the ulsavam is the daily Para ezhunnellippu and Aarattu.
considered to be most effectual for Mangalyam (long married life) and for getting best marriage for girls. It is believed that Bhagavathy in her full attire, specially decorated with gold and diamonds shine in its entire splendor, gave darsan to Vilwamangalam Swamiyar on the Makom day and appears on the same day every year for giving darsan to the devotees in her special appearance. On that day, the whole temple premises will be over crowded by devotees especially the women folk.
Navarathri Aghosham is a famous festival, which attracts large number of devotees. Vidyarambham is conducted on the Vijayadasami day of Navarathri ulsavam. The Vrishchicka Mandala mahotsavam (festival) is celebrated during the entire period of mandalam season. On the makaravilakku day there is lakshadeepam (lighting of one lakh lamps) and fire works.Vazhipaadu or offerings performed in Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple are Bhajanam, Annadanam, Chuttuvilakku and Niramala, Rudrabhishekam, Thrikala Pooja, One day Pooja, Mahabhagavath Seva, Noorum Palum, Palpayasam, Mrithyunjaya Homam, Chathussadam, Pantheerayiram pushpanjali, Mandapathilpaattu and Guruthy Vazhipaadu and Poomoodal at Kizhukkavu Bhagavathy Temple.


According to the legend, the place where the temple stands today was once a dense forest inhabited by tribals. Kannappan a ferocious dacoit who dominated this area, brought a cow to his home with the intent of slaughtering it. But the cow escaped into the forest and Kannappan tried to trace it but failed. He returned home disappointed and was surprised to find his beloved only daughter playing with the very same cow. At her request, Kannappan dropped the idea of killing the cow. But some days later his daughter passed away and this shattered him. He lost interest in mundane things and turned his thoughts towards god. One day, Goddess Bhagawati appeared in his dream and revealed that it was she who had come in the form of the cow. She also informed him that the presence of Her idol and that of Vishnu would sanctify the cowshed. The following day, Kannappan found the two images in the cowshed. He built a humble shrine and worshipped the images. Known as 'pavizamallithara', located south of the main temple was the exact place where Kanappan's cowshed and shrine was located.
After the death of Kannappan the temple fell in ruins, as the place became uninhabited. One day a pulaya (outcaste) woman who had come to cut grass sharpened her knife against a stone, which started to ooze blood. This was informed to the learned Edathu Nambudiri and he realised that there was divine Chaitanya of Parasakti at the place. Several poojas were performed and a prasnam was held in which it was revealed that the stone be worshipped as Devi and the adjoining one as Vishnu. It then grew into a shrine of the magnitude seen today, over a period of time.

How to reach:

Cochin Air Port - Kalamassery, Kakkanadu, Irimpanam, Karingachira, Chottanikkara
Eranakulam South Railway Station - Vyttila, Tripunithura, Thiruvankulam, Chottanikkara
Eranakulam North Railway Station - Palarivattom, Vyttila,Tripunithura,Thiruvankulam, Chottanikkara
Eranakulam K.S.R.T.C.Bus Stand - Vyttila, Tripunithura, Thiruvankulam, Chottanikkara
Kaloor Private Bus Stand - Palarivattom, Vyttila,Tripunithura,Thiruvankulam, Chottanikkara

Monday, 16 November 2009

Devi Temples in India - Kateel Durga Temple

I had given brief insight into some of the temples of devi in my second blog.Let us continue with the visits to the different temples and have her darshan and I hope it brings peace and prosperity for those who read and for those who want to visit these temples. In all these temple visits Iam planning to look into the routes for travel as well so that it would be easy for those who want to make the trip to that particular temple.
First on the list is :
Kateel Durga Temple - dakshina kannadaKateel is a sacred place for Hindus in Dakshina Kannada. This temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga Parameshwari. The holy temple is situated in the middle of the sacred river. The temple surrounded by panoramic scenes and fascinating greeneries. The devotees overwhelmed with pious emotions when they glance at the flowing water in the river, which embraces all around the lower layer of the temple. Kateel is 29 K.M. distances from Mangalore city.
When Goddess slew Shumbha & Nishumbha, Arunasura, one of the ministers, had fled from the battlefield and saved his life. Later he became the leader of the Rakshasas (demons). He began to disturb the sages and destruct their Yajnas. As a result, the Devas stopped raining, which resulted in total draught and scarcity of water and food grains on the earth. Moved by the pathetic conditions of the people Maharshi Jabali, the great sage decided to perform a Yajna to appease the Devas. He approached Devendra and requested him to send Kamadhenu (a sacred cow) with him for the ritual. Since Kamadhenu had been to Varuna Loka, Devendra permitted the sage to take Nandini, the daughter of Kamadhenu in order to assist him as Homadhenu (symbolic cow for ritual) in his proposed Yajna. Jabali went to Nandini and put forth his request. In reply Nandini abused the earth and the people there and refused to accompany him. When the sage found that Nandini was firm in her refusal, he cursed her to flow as a river on the earth. As Nandini prayed Jabali for mercy, kindhearted sage advised her to pray Adhishakti to get freed from the curse. Accordingly she prayed Adhishakti. Pleased by her deep meditation Goddess appeared before Nandini and told her that she has to flow as a river as a result of the curse, because nobody can trespass the sentences (Rishi Vakya) of a holy sage. But she added "I shall take birth as your daughter in due course and purify you from this curse". Satisfied by this assurance Nandini emerged as a river from Kanakagiri on the day of Magha Shuddha Poornima and made the earth green once again.
Meanwhile Arunasura acquired a boon from Brahma, which made him free from fear of death by Trinity, Devas, men or women or by any two legged or four legged animals & creatures. Goddess Saraswathi also blessed him with Gayathri Mantra (Holy chants).
All these made him the most powerful. He defeated the Devatas and conquered Heaven. Disheartened by disastrous defeat, the Devatas, along with Trinity pleaded Adhishakti for the rescue. Goddess said that unless and until Arunasura is prevented from reciting Gayathri Mantra she too would not be able to destroy him. She suggested them to send Brihaspathi (Guru of Devatas) to distract Arunasura from his meditation of Gayathri, and make him get rid of Gayathri recitation so that she would be able to kill him. Brihaspathi approached Arunasura, flattered him, poisoned his ears and succeeded in diverting him from his meditation.
Now Arunasura vainly felt that he was more than God himself. He not only ordered his subjects to worship him but also troubled the sages and spoiled their Yajnas. As promised to the Devas, Goddess took the shape of Mohini, a charming woman and began to wander in the garden of Arunasura. Chanda & Prachanda, ministers of Arunasura saw her and informed the master about her beauty. Arunasura decided to marry her and approached her. When she turned deaf ears to his request & teased him for fleeing from the war field, in afraid of the lady who killed his masters Shumbha & Nishumbha, he became furious. When he tried to take her by storm, she disappeared inside rock. Arunasura broke the rock with his sword. Suddenly, a vast swarm of bees emerged from the rock and stung him. Devi had taken the form of a big, furious bee that is 'Bhramara' and stung him repeatedly till his last breath.
Now the Devas and the sages led by Jabali performed "Abhishekham" (holy bath) to Devi with tender coconut brought from the Kalpavriksha of Devaloka, and prayed her to bless the world with 'Soumya Roopa' (tender posture). According to this request Devi emerged in the form of 'Linga' (symbolic holy rock) in the middle of the river Nandini and is known as Shree Durga Parameshwari. KATI means waist and ILA means earth. So Kateel stands for that area of the earth, which is the Kati, or the center of the river Nandini. The Nandini is purified by the birth of Adhishakti in her "Kati" and Durga Parameshwari is here for the good of the universe and blesses those who come to her.
Other important Idols of Deities in the temple:
Rakteshwari: After entering main entrance, before entering into the temple, on the left side a big symbolic rock can be seen by us is called as Goddess Rakteshwari. Poojas performed everyday thrice to Goddess Rakteshwari. On every Sankramana devotees offer coconut sevas to the Goddess.
Mahaganapathi: In southern side of the main sanctum there lies idol of Shri Mahaganapathi. In the pit (homa kunda) in front of the Shri Mahaganapathi, priests perform Ganahoma (holy lighting) every day. Ganahoma and Pancha Kajjaya are the exclusive sevas offered by the devotees to the Lord Mahaganapathi.
Shasthara: Shasthara is another name of the Lord Ayyappan. His shrine lies in right side of the Shri Mahaganapathi.
Kshetrapala: On the southwestern side of the temple there lies an abode of Shri Kshetrapala. Special poojas and coconut sevas are offered to Shri Kshetrapalas on occasion of festivals. Daily poojas will be offered to him every night after main pooja to the Goddess Shri Durga Parameshwari.
Abode of the Naga Devata: There are two abodes of Naga Devatas. One is near Shri Kshetrapalas abode, which is inside the temple and another is outside.
Brahma's Shrine: Outside the temple on the right side of the premises we could find one shrine dedicated to Brahma. Devotees and believers strongly believe that in the event of loss of any important personal possessions the oath of doing certain poojas or sevas will fulfill their desires of finding and getting back of their lost items.
How to reach the temple:
Mangalore-Bajpe-Kateel:- 25 K.M. distance.
Udupi-Mulki-Kinnigoli-Kateel:- 45 K.M. distance.
Moodabidri-Kinnigoli-Kateel: 22 K.M. distance

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Memories of Aberdeen

This post is about the beautiful place where I had the opportunity to stay and work for a year.It is none other than the granite city Aberdeen.This place is very special to me because it helped me to look into myself and made me a better person.I was spell bound by the country side beauty of it and I fell in love with its gardens and the buildings.Its architecture and the less crowded streets.I like to go to places but not for a day or for a week ,I like to spend time knowing the people their culture their way of living and above all take in the beauty of the place slowly like how we would sip a cup of coffee sitting in the armchair near a fire place.so my exploration of this place was something like that i saw the summer there and the winter and my body and soul drenched in its beauty ,serenity and its pride.The buildings stand so proudly welcoming visitors the people understand their diverse nature of their city and try to accomodate the people from different parts of the world.come join me into this journey and i will take you through the places where i roamed and gazed taking in everything in its own stride. The latest official population estimate, for 2008, is 210,400.Aberdeen's architecture is known for its principal use during the Victorian era of granite, which has led to its local nickname of the Granite City or more romantically the less commonly used name the Silver City, since the quartz in the stone sparkles in the sun.
The hard grey stone is one of the most durable materials available and helps to explain why the city's buildings look brand-new when they have been newly cleaned and the cement has been pointed. Unlike other Scottish cities where sandstone has been used the buildings are not weathering and need very little structural maintenance on their masonry.

Unlike the roads in the UK the roads are very broad and the traffic eases very quickly because of the big roads.The main street here is the union street.It is like MG Road in India and High street in other places.it is a busy shopping centre and there is always a road side show of music from the highlanders near Mark's and Spencer.I spend my weekends doing shopping here and listening to the highlanders singing their favourite numbers.The other shopping centre in aberdeen is Nicholas centre.You find everything here:

In and around Union street there are STATUES which catches one's eye, it is like a treasure hunt for tourist.here are a few of them.

Everything about the place is beautiful.There is always the grey sky and pleasant drizzle hitting your face and the cold air reminds you that you are not very far from the artic circle. The Indian Resturant is always packed with people because the people love indian curries and takeaways.I used to sit on the roof of Nicolas centre and wonder what am I doing here and then turn around and look at people around me and say to myself it is an experience that God has given me to enjoy and treasure because I will never be able to do it again.Life smiled at me and said take it for you would be robbed of it very soon.My thoughts ran a bit too far and I used to stand in front of the cathedral looking up and smiling to myself at the simple thought of its simplicity.

The beautiful garden on my way home from school always lifts up my heart and gives me the assurance that nature towers above us and that we all are at its mercy.

One never misses the Mercat cross in aberdeen.Diagonally opposite the Tolbooth and adorned with a white unicorn stands the Mercat Cross, a medieval symbol of the Aberdeen's right to hold a market. On the town cross which was built in 1686 by Aberdeen's guild of merchants, the portrait medallions show the heads of the 10 Stuart monarchs from James I through to James VII, Charles I, Charles II and Mary Stuart.Only a few yards away stood the town residence of the Earl Marischal from whose window in 1562 Mary Stuart is said to have watched the execution of her cousin and admirer Sir John Gordon of Findlater. He had threatened Mary with a forced marriage but later found himself a victim of the "Aberdeen Maiden", a Scottish variation of the guillotine.

the people of aberdeen love flowers they not only decorate their houses with colourful flowers but even their garden and the main centres are all decorated with flowers during spring and summer.

Adjacent to where I lived was His Majesty's theatre. It is fantastic place to be in during the weekends there are musicals and plays all round the year.It is real treat to be there and anyone going there should experience this great place and the vibes it brings with it.

It would be unfair on my part if i do not talk about the harbour of aberdeen.Aberdeen Harbour is both one of Europe's most modern ports and according to the Guinness Book of Business Records - Britain's oldest businesses.
Through more than eight centuries, history traces the harbours increasingly important role in the development and prosperity of North-east Scotland.
The sheltered estuary of the River Dee is a natural harbour and its first use is lost in the mists of time. There is evidence of human habitation around 5,000 BC.Around 2,000 BC, immigrants from the Rhineland and Holland arrived, probably using the estuary as a base for fishing. The Romans may have used it to supply soldiers in the area.

My life in aberdeen was a memorable one and the beauty of the place and its closeness will ever remain as long as I live.I live to cherish those memories.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Master helps to conquer death

Sri Yukteshwar, who later became Swami Yogananda's Guru, was a very close disciple of Shyama Charan Lahiri. One day his dearest friend, Ram, was attacked by cholera. Two doctors tried to save his life, but it seemed that all their efforts were in vain. It was a matter of a few hours before Ram would die.Yukteshwar ran to his Master, crying to him to save his friend's life. Shyama Charan Lahiri said to Yukteshwar, "You have doctors. Why do you need me? The doctors will save him. They will be able to do the needful. I don't have to be involved."Yukteshwar went back, full of hope, but gradually his friend's condition became worse. When it was a matter of four or five minutes before he would die, Ram said to his dearest friend Yukteshwar, "I will be dead in a few minutes. Please tell the Master that I have a last wish. My last wish is that he come and touch my dead body and thus bless me. This will be my last plea to him." In a few minutes' time he passed away.Crying, Yukteshwar went back again to Shyama Charan Lahiri in order to give him Ram's message. The Master said, "How is Ram?" Yukteshwar replied, "Please go and see him yourself. This was his last prayer to you: that you would touch his dead body and bless him."But Shyama Charan said, "Then why should I go? He is not dead.""Yes," said Yukteshwar, "He is dead. The doctors have pronounced it."Shyama Charan Lahiri took some oil from a lamp and said, "Go and put a little bit of this oil into his mouth."His friend was dead, but this was the command of the Master, so what else could Yukteshwar do? He went and put a small quantity of the oil that his Master had given him into Ram's mouth. In a few minutes Ram came to life, saying that he had had a dream in which he saw Shyama Charan Lahiri in a most beautiful form. The Master had said to him, "Ram, why are you sleeping? Get up and come to me."Then Ram stood up, put on his clothes and both the friends went to Shyama Charan's place. The Master said to Yukteshwar, "Now I have taught you how to conquer death. From now on if anybody dies, just take a small quantity of oil and put it into his mouth. I have given you the medicine to conquer death." Everybody laughed and laughed, because they knew perfectly well that the oil was just an outer gesture, a token, a symbol, whereas the actual gift of life had come from Lahiri.
It is only the omnipotent spirituality that can turn impossibility into facile possibility. But spirituality, out of its sheer magnanimity, tries to adopt outer earthly means so that it can convince the physical mind that the truth-principle can be accessible to the human in us. Otherwise, without the least possible hesitation, one can say that it is the spiritual force that in silence turns the impossible reality into clear and certain possibility. Not only that, but afterwards it turns possibility into practical and inevitable reality.It was the Master's spiritual power that revived Ram. Otherwise, no matter what kind of oil one puts into a dying man's mouth, will he survive? It could have been anything. Only to convince the physical mind with a physical object did the Master tell his disciple to use oil. That is why spiritual Masters say, "Do this, do that," when somebody is sick. Actually, it is their spiritual power which cures, but they know that this will convince the physical mind, so the patient's physical mind can believe that the Master has true concern for him.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Spiritual Science Smiles

A disciple of Shyama Charan Lahiri, Chandra Mohan, had just got his medical degree. He went to his Master and placed himself at his feet. The Master blessed him and asked him quite a few questions about medical science. Then he said to his disciple, "Can you tell me if I am alive?" Immediately the Master lay down and stopped his heartbeat. The young man who had just got his degree could not feel the Master's pulse or heartbeat. He was astonished. There were other men there and they also could not feel anything. Shyama Charan Lahiri was absolutely like a dead body.This went on for ten or fifteen minutes. Then suddenly Shyama Charan Lahiri opened his eyes and said, "You people should always remember that far beyond medical science is spiritual science. The medical world will never be able to fathom the spiritual mysteries. But these spiritual mysteries are not mysteries as such. They are the real realities of normal people, and normal people are those who believe in God implicitly."
Spirituality invents, medical science discovers. This invention of spirituality is in perfect harmony with God's omniscient Vision and omnipotent Reality. Spirituality is the foundation of the life-reality-building. This building has quite a few floors: science, art, philosophy, religion and so forth. If there is no foundation, there can be no edifice. It is the spirituality-foundation that supports all the floors and, at the same time, transcends the capacity of even the upper floors. It is consciously one with the root-reality of God's Existence-Consciousness-Bliss.

Friday, 16 October 2009

தீபாவளி நல்வாழ்த்துகள்


Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Some more information about Lahiri Maharishi

After initiating Shyama Charan, Master Babaji, the Lion Yogi, said to his student, Initiation is of paramount importance; therefore, I have initiated you. But now, in three days time, I want you to leave for your home. You have to go back to work. Your family needs you badly.”
Shyama Charan cried and cried. He did not want to go. His Master consoled him and said, No, you have to do something most special for God while staying with your family and leading the life of a householder. But I assure you, whenever you are in need of me, just invoke me, and I shall come to see you and bless you.”
With a heavy heart, Shyama Charan left for home. On his way, he stayed for two or three days at the home of some of his friends. His friends said to him, “Do you believe in occult power or spiritual power? We don't believe in it. There was a time when Indian sadhus had occult power, but now those days are gone. People who claim that they have occult powers are all fakes.”
Shyama Charan said, “What do you mean? I have just been initiated by a great spiritual Master. I know how much occult power he has.”
His friends did not believe him, so he said, “If you don't believe me, I can prove it. You just leave this room, allow me to meditate for a few minutes and I assure you my Master will come here.”
Lahiri's friends had no faith in occult power, but they were all curious, so they left. When his friends left the room, he invoked his Master most soulfully. In fifteen minutes’ time Babaji came into the room in his subtle body, and then he assumed his physical body.
Shyama Charan was overjoyed to see his Master inside the room, but Babaji scolded and insulted him mercilessly. He said, “Look at your audacity! I came from such a great distance, only to please your curiosity and to challenge your atheist friends. I warn you, I will never, never do this kind of thing again. I told you that whenever you invoke me I shall come, but I am revoking my promise to you. Now I wish to say that whenever I want to see you, only then shall I come to you, wherever you are.”
Shyama Charan cried and cried for forgiveness. Babaji said, “I have forgiven you, but never invoke me any more to display my occult power or to display your devotion. Only when I feel the need shall I come to see you. In the inner world you can invoke me, you can feel my presence, but I don’t want to show my physical presence this way any more.”
Shyama Charan bowed down to Babaji and said, “Now that you have come, O Master, out of your infinite Compassion, please, please give me a boon.”
“What is your boon?” Babaji asked.
“I want my friends to come and see you,” said Shyama Charan, “so that they will believe in your occult power.”
The Master laughed at him, saying, “Yes, and also in your invocation-power. Go and tell them to come.”
Shyama Charan opened the door and his friends came in. They were so surprised to see a sadhu with long hair and a long beard seated in a lotus position. Babaji did not talk to them, but he smiled at everyone and everybody bowed down to him. Shyama Charan brought some food for the Master and the Master ate in front of them. Then Babaji asked everyone to leave for a few minutes. When they returned, he had disappeared.
The display of occult power or spiritual power,does not lead one to the path of wisdom.It only increases your ego which you are trying to shred along the way. Miracle-power does not and cannot change humanity's face. Humanity's face can be transformed only by inner awakening, inner dedication and surrender to God. Curiosity is not spirituality. An inner awakening is the only true spirituality which God appreciates lovingly, compassionately and unreservedly. For God's universal Oneness, universal Love, one should look into one's self and stop pleasing others or try to change their ways.Each one has a different path for the same destination and one should find it on their own. gurus are like the walking stick they are not the vehicles for transporting you into eternity.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Shyama Charan Lahiri's Initiation

One evening, Shyama Charan Lahiri was roaming at the foot of the Himalayas while on a short visit to the area, when he heard a voice saying, “Shyama Charan, Shyama Charan.” He was surprised to see a sadhu calling him from a distance. The sadhu approached him and said, “Don't you recognise me, my child, my son?” Then he uttered the name of Shyama Charan’s father and grandfather. Even then Shyama Charan could not recognise him. The sadhu showed him abundant affection and led him into a cave and showed him a trident, a sacred water pot, a lion skin, a tiger skin and some beads. He said, “Can you recognise these? They are all yours,” but Shyama Charan could not recognise them. The sadhu then placed his hand on Shyama Charan’s spine. Immediately Shyama Charan came to realise that those were indeed his belongings.The sadhu said to him, “My name is Babaji, my son. You were my dear student in your previous incarnation. You left the body at a very high stage of spiritual development. I want you to complete your spiritual life in this incarnation.”Shyama Charan bowed to his Master and cried and cried. He said that he would not go back to his wife and family, but Babaji said, “No, you have to return to them. God wants you to lead a family life and, at the same time, remain in your highest consciousness and guide householders in leading a better, higher and purer life. I shall initiate you in a few days’ time. As long as you remain near the Himalayas, come and see me every day.”Shyama Charan was overjoyed that his Master was going to initiate him. With a heart full of gratitude and delight, he left.A few days later Lahiri returned to the Master. Babaji said, “The time has come for me to initiate you, but before I do, you have to drink this liquid.”Shyama Charan drank a very large quantity of an oily liquid from an earthen jar. It caused him to vomit and empty himself many, many times. Then Babaji said, “Now you are purified, my son. I am giving you puri, halwa and other sweetmeats. Eat them to your heart’s content.” Shyama Charan ate them voraciously. Then the Master initiated him compassionately, unreservedly and unconditionally.
One's soul takes several births to fulfill its wishes and to reach its goal.We always look at the smaller picture and think that is it but the soul is in search of its eternity and by our actions we should help the soul to reach its goal if we deviate from its path the soul is in a mournful mood and thus leading us into falsehood.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Great Spiritual Master

I was writing about the great masters in my other blog,then something inside me said that I had to share it with the readers who have already the knowledge of kriya yoga. It is my duty to put forth these stories of the great masters and the lesson that we could learn from them.I have often admired the simplicity and their humility.such great souls are admist us today and they will remain with us forever.Hope you also feel the tranquility that I feel while knowing about such great masters.I have read alot of Maharishi Lahiri and one incident which fascinates me even now is the photographic incident.Here it is for the benefit of the readers.

Shyama Charan Lahiri was dead against anyone’s taking a photograph of him. But since his intimate students were repeatedly requesting permission to take his photograph, he once agreed. The students called in a photographer, and like a child the Master asked him questions. The photographer was deeply honoured, so he taught the Master the ABCs of photography.
But when it was time for the Master’s picture to be taken, the photographer could not see him in the viewfinder. He aimed the camera at the Master, but the Master was not visible. When he focused on others, he saw them perfectly, but when he focused on Shyama Charan, there was nothing visible at all.
Finally the frustrated photographer said to the Master, “It is impossible. I can’t take your picture. I don’t know what you are doing.”
The Master smiled and said, “All right, I shall behave myself. Now you can take it.” This time when the photographer looked through the viewfinder, Shyama Charan Lahiri was clearly visible, so he snapped the picture. Then Shyama Charan Lahiri said to him, “Spirituality and spiritual power far surpass modern science. Just have faith in the Real, which is spirituality.”
That particular picture is an immortal picture, the most authentic and the highest picture taken of the Master. His students now worship in front of that picture.
Some spiritual Masters are not in favour of taking a photograph. They feel that since the body-reality is so transient, why pay any attention to it? There are other Masters who are of the opinion that a photograph does not represent a mere object, but can serve as an inspirational force and an elevating and illumining experience. These Masters feel the supreme necessity of seeing the highest reality inside the body-reality first, and then transforming the body-reality into the soul’s universal mission and transcendental vision. According to them, a photograph is not a mere piece of paper reflecting an outer face or appearance; it is an illumining revelation of what one inwardly is.
There are those who think the achievements of the world, in the world, are useless, and the world itself is useless, for it is unreal; therefore, they do not want to leave behind anything when they enter into the other world. But those who think of the world as the field of God-manifestation will strive to leave behind a transformed life and revelations of an immortal soul. Both parties are equally correct in their respective approaches to reality, according to the depth and height of their own realisation.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Lakshmi Pooja on Diwali day

Today's Post is about the lakshmi pooja to be performed on diwali day.The first and the foremost thing in Diwali Lakshmi puja procedure is the neatness. Puranas stated that Lakshmi resides there where neatness and cleanness exist. So, first of everything, make your home or the puja place neat. Draw some rangoli designs or the patterns to welcome Goddess Maha Lakshmi.

Diwali Laxmi Puja has a very simple procedure and the material required for pooja is also very easy to get for people of any economic status. Here is the list of material or accessories needed for Lakshmi Puja.
Silver coins or Gold coins or rupee coins
Suparis – 10 (betel nuts)
Akshata (consecrated rice)
Betel leaves (paan leaves) – 10
Coconut – 1 or more
A bronze pot with water (Fill the pot with holy water if possible)
Kumkum to shower on Goddess Lakshmi and to apply Tilak
Turmeric powder

agarbattis (incense sticks) (Dhoop sticks)

Procedures to perform Lakshmi Puja

Take a piece of cloth (red or yellow or green in colour) and spread it at the sanctified puja place. On the cloth, spread 9 mounds of rice and keep betel leaves with suparis on the top of the rice mounds. The nine betel leaves with suparis indicate the nine planets (Navagraha devatas).
You can keep a betel leaf and supari in the place of Ganesh or can place a Ganesh idol.
A pot has to be filled with water and adorned with betel leaves. Keep a coconut on the top of the water filled pot.
Now dress the pot with red cloth and tie a red thread around the pot. On the pot, draw four lines with kumkum. The four lines indicate the Chatur Vedas. Place kumkum for the pot.Now, the pot with all these decorations is referred as Kalash or Purna Kumbh which represents the Universal power (Supreme deity).
In Diwali Puja thali place some silver or golden or simply rupee coins. The coin is a direct form of wealth that is Goddess Lakshmi.
Now the actual puja begins. Take some water on your left hand and sprinkle on to yourself after purifying your hands.
Place a flower on your palm and take some akshata (consecrated rice) into your hand.
Chant the Gayatri Mantra for 3 times. You can skip this step as it is an optional one.
Now start Ganesh Puja. If you don’t know Ganesh puja procedure then simply install or visualize Ganesha in your heart, chant a sloka of Ganesh and offer some flowers and akshata to Ganesh idol or thebetel leaf with Supari representing Lord Ganesh.
In the same way pray to Lord Shiva. If you don’t know the simple Shiva puja procedure then you can chant a sloka of Lord Shiva.
Sprinkle some pure water on Kalash or Purna Kumbha. Apply some kumkum and shower akshata.
Offer a sweet and fruit to the Kalash. Treat the Kalash or Purna Kumbha as a guest and worship the sacred pot with utmost devotion. Kalash is considered as powerful as the Goddess. Follow the same puja procedure with the Navagrahas or the 9 planets or the 9 supari placed at the nine locations on the puja cloth. The same puja procedure is followed with the 4 directions. Sprinkle water towards 4 directions – North, South, East and West. This puja procedure of 4 directions represent 4 dishas of the Universe.
Perform the bath to silver and gold coins with milk (ksheerabhishekam), with water (Jalabhishekam), with gulal and with flowers (Pushpabhishekam). Then offer sweet recipe to the coins. It is believed that jingling coins would let Goddess Laxmi Devi to install in your pooja place.
Install or keep Goddess Lakshmi Maa in your heart and chant a mantra or sloka or stotra of Goddess Mahalakshmi and pray to her heartfully. If you know the stotras of Lakshmi Ashtottaram or Laxmi Shatanamavali, recite the stotras.
Now it’s the time to perform Aarti to Goddess Mahalaxmi. Light the Diya or camphor for Aarti. Ring the bell while singing Lakshmi Aarti.
After performing Aarti to Lakshmi Mata, keep Lakshmi Puja Thali at a safe place. Complete the whole puja to Lakshmi with devotion and dedication.
Keep your worries aside about any mistake you did unknowingly during the pooja procedure. Mantras to be recited:

"Om Sri Maha Lakshmyai Namah"

This simple mantra is often chanted by people in their day to day course of work. The chant simply means salutations to O great goddess Maha Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune and wealth. "Sarvagyay Sarvavarday Sarvadushtbhaydkree Sarvadukhaharay Devi Mahalakshmi Namostutay"

O divine Goddess Ma Lakshmi, nothing is hidden from you. You grant all favors to your children removing all miseries from their lives and on the other hand are fearsome for the evil. Accept my salutations O auspicious goddess.

"Padnaasanstithay Devi Parbrahmaswaroopeene Parmashree Jaganmatra Mahalakshmi Namostutay"

O mother Lakshmi you are like supreme Brahman and reside in the hearts of all your devotees. O Devi you are the mother of the entire Universe and to you I offer all my respects and salutations.

"Sthulsukshmay Maharodray Mahashakti MahodrayMahapapharay Devi Mahalakshmi Namostutay"

You know it all O mother goddess, nothing is hidden from you. O mother you are the one who removes all the sins and grant boons. O propitious goddess I bow to you, accept my salutations.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Diwali Celebrations around the world

The festival of Diwali has been celebrated for ages and grows in attraction by the year. Everyone enjoys the goodies, the shine, glamour, and the endless enthusiasm for living that suddenly grips people around this time. But there is much more to Diwali than feasting and merrymaking. Diwali is a holy tradition, not to be put in the shade by the lights. Deepawali symbolizes the victory of light over darkness. Celebrated joyously all over the country, it is a festival of wealth and prosperity. Deepawali is essentially a festival for householders. The preparations, the rituals, the entire celebration focuses on the home and family, spanning out to cover the community as a natural extension. Diwali is a festival synonymous with celebrations in India and among Indians all over the world, is an occasion for jubilation and togetherness. This is an occasion for young and the old, men and women, rich and poor - for everyone. Irrespective of their religious and economic background, the festival is celebrated throughout the country to ward off the darkness and welcome the light into their lives. At a metaphysical level, Deepawali is a festival signifying the victory of good over evil; the latter is destroyed and reduced to ashes by fireworks is the belief of the people. This festival is celebrated on a grand scale in almost all the regions of India and is looked upon mainly as the beginning of New Year. As such the blessings of Lakshmi, the celestial consort of Lord Vishnu are invoked with prayers. Diwali is also celebrated outside India mainly in Guyana, Fiji, Malaysia, Nepal, Mauritius, Myanmar, Singapore, United States, Srilanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Britain, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Africa, and Australia among the Hindus world over. Places as far as Southern America have record of celebrating Diwali. Diwali celebrations in Britain : The Indians are the second largest ethnic minority in Britain. To get rid of the feeling of missing their homeland, especially during festival times, the Indians here celebrate most of the festivals .The occasion is marked by visit to the local temple to worship the shrine of Lakshmi, which they have made for Diwali. Eating special sweets, burning of incense sticks, lighting the home and surroundings and the blowing of the conch shell follows the prayer session in the Lakshmi temple. The festival here is celebrated according to the Hindu solar calendar hence it falls in the months of October-November, amongst the cold, damp and windy months in Britain. Still the enthusiasm of the festival celebration makes the task of leaving small lamps on windowsills or by open doorways possible ignoring the chill. The lamps and diyas play their part in maintaining the atmosphere of Diwali at home.
Diwali celebrations in Guyana : Guyana, formerly known as British Guiana, is located on the northeast coast of South America. Guyana is 82,978 square miles in area and has a population of about 7,70,000. Hindus constitute 33% of Guyana's total population. The Co-operative Republic of Guyana in Southern America celebrates Diwali according to the Hindu Solar calendar. The day of the festival is declared as a national holiday in the official calendar of Guyana. The tradition of celebrating the festival is believed to have been brought to Guyana in the year 1853 by the first indentured people from India. The legends related to the festival are similar to that of India. The celebration of the festival includes, distribution of sweets, illuminating the inside and outside of the house, exchange of greetings, cleaning of houses and wearing of new clothes. The celebrations hold special significance for the people of Guyana. The distribution of sweet signifies the importance of serving and sharing whereas exchange of greeting cards denotes the goodwill of each other. The sweets distributed mainly consist of pera, barfi, and kheer. The tradition of wearing new cloth for the people of Guyana is significant especially in this festival. They believe that wearing new cloth is the symbol of healthy souls in healthy bodies. Cleaning of their homes and keeping them well illuminated in and outside is a practice meant to illuminate the road for Goddess Lakshmi so that while goddess Lakshmi visits their home she faces no problem of light as the diwali night is regarded as the darkest night of the year.
Diwali celebrations in Indonesia : The name Indonesia came from two Greek words: "Indos" meaning Indian and "Nesos" meaning islands. The majority of population follows Islam. Hindus constituent about 2% of Indonesia's total population. However, the Indonesian island of Bali is famous for celebrating the festival of Diwali, as a majority of the population here is that of Indians. It is one of the most revered festivals of the locals here. The celebration and rituals of the festival is mostly similar to that celebrated by their counterparts in India.
Diwali celebrations in Malaysia : Fascinating in its diversity, Malaysia has many mesmerizing charms and attractions. With a population of about 20 million, comprising of a harmonious multi-ethnic mix of Malays, Malaysia promises a colorful potpourri of cultural traditions. Most are based on the various religious practices, beliefs and traditions influencing the costumes, festivals, ceremonies and rituals. The Hindu community of Malaysia constitutes about 8% of its total population .The community celebrates Diwali as a symbol of triumph of good over evil. The Malaysian people call diwali as Hari Diwali. This festival is celebrated during the 7th month of the Hindu solar calendar. The south Indian traditional of oil bath precedes the festivities. The celebration includes visits to temples and prayers at household altars. Small lamps made from clay and filled with coconut oil and wicks are a common sight to signify the victory of Lord Rama, the hero of the Hindu epic Ramayana, over the demon king Ravana. Diwali is celebrated almost all over the Malaysia except in Sarawak & Federal Territory of Labuan.
Diwali celebrations in Mauritius : Mauritius is an island in the Indian Ocean that lies to the east of Madagascar. This beautiful landmass is full of picturesque landscapes and enchanting spots. Mauritius accounts a 63% of Indian majority of which 80% follow Hinduism. Hence, celebration of almost all the Hindu festivals in this island is a common phenomenon. In Mauritius, Diwali celebration is an age-old tradition. It holds special significance for the natives, who believe that Diwali has been celebrated even long before the return of Lord Rama from 14 years of exile and his coronation as the king. The festival is marked by lightening of earthen lamps in rows making images out of the rows. Lakshmi is worshipped as the goddess of wealth and crackers are burnt to scare away evil spirits.
Diwali celebrations in Nepal : Nepal is a landlocked country nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas. Nepal, a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual society is the only Hindu Kingdom of the world. Diwali is celebrated here with the usual Hindu festivities and rituals. Diwali in Nepal is known as Tihar. Just like most places in India Diwali is celebrated here to honor the goddess of wealth and god of prosperity Lakshmi and Ganesh respectively. The festival of light falls in the months of October or November on the day of Amavasya - the darkest day of the year. The festival here continues for five days. Every day has its special significance. The first day is dedicated to cows as they cook rice and feed the cows believing that goddess Lakshmi comes on cows. The second day is for Dogs as the Vahana of Bhairava. Preparation of delicious food especially meant for the dog is a typical characteristic of the day. Lights and lamps are lit to illuminate the entire surrounding and some of the specialty items are prepared to mark the third day of the festival. Fireworks, Lamps and crackers are widely used. The fourth day is dedicated to Yama, the Hindu God of Death. He is prayed for long life. The fifth final day is Bhhaya Dooj dedicated for the brothers who are wished long life and prosperity by their sisters.
Diwali celebrations in South Africa : South Africa is located at the southern tip of the continent of Africa. The South African culture is a mix of variety of cultures. Asians in South Africa constitute two per cent of South Africa's population, and most are of Indian origin. Indians in South Africa are descended from indentured labourers who were brought by the British from India in the 19th century, mostly to work in sugar plantations or mines (especially, coal) in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and later also from traders who emigrated to South Africa. A decade prior to the colonization by the United States of America, the nation had the largest immigrant Indian community in the world. Interestingly, Indian South Africans form the largest group in the world of people of Indian descent born outside India. At present, South Africa has almost one million immigrant Indians most of whom are concentrated in the eastern regions of Natal and Transvaal of the country. About 65% of Hindus, 15% of Muslims and 20% of Christians live in this area. Due to the majority of the Hindu population, a number of Hindu festivals are celebrated here. Naturally, Diwali also holds an important place in the festival calendar of the region. The celebration is more or less same to that in India. A new book on Indian indentured labourers reveals that the 2007 Diwali Celebrations in South Africa marked the 100th year of celebrations of the festival in the country.
Diwali celebrations in Trinidad and Tobago : Trinidad is the most southern of the Caribbean islands, lying only seven miles off the Venezuelan coast, is one of the most exciting, colorful islands of the West Indies. Considered as the land of the Humming Bird, Trinidad and Tobago has a good number of Indian population. For that reason, Hindu festivals, customs, traditions and observances forms an integral part of the society, which comprises the unique beauty of the twin island state. The Diwali celebration has a unique flavor here in the Caribbean island nation. Here 43 per cent of the 1.3 million populations are ethnic Indians. The Diwali celebrations are usually marked as an occasion to unify the nation that consists of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Indo-Trinidadians and Afro-Trinidadians. The festival day is regarded as a national holiday. The festival is also marked by scores of functions besides the usual rituals of the festivity. The functions and celebrations also have an official imprint as the Ministers of the Government also participate in the celebrations sometimes. The belief behind the festival is same as of India, which is, prevalence of good over evil. The celebrations continue for over a week and the headquarters of the National Council of Indian Culture at Diwali Nagar becomes the focal point.
Diwali Celebrations in the U.S:The celebrations may vary depending on the state and the Indian population living there. There are ceremonies organized in community halls for people to get together and enjoy the festivities. In the year 2007, the US House of Representatives had passed a resolution recognizing the spiritual, religious and historical importance of Diwali. This came like a welcome change for Indians living in the US for years, craving for Diwali sweets, and Diwali fireworks.As in India, in the US, Diwali is celebrated in honor of Lord Rama, the king who returned after 14 years of exile. Akin to celebrations in India houses are decorated with earthen lamps and these rows of light look spectacular in the dark. Temples in the US are also decorated with lights and colorful rangoli. In the evenings, people gather at a community hall where cultural programs are held.Fire crackers are burst and various competitions held. The competitions include ethnic dance, rangoli and other cultural events. Diwali sweets and snacks are distributed among family and friends.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Celebrations of Diwali in Different parts of India

Tracing back to the history of ancient India, Diwali was celebrated as the main harvest festival. But later it is being celebrated following the Hindu treatise. As per the Hindu almanac or Panjaka, Diwali is celebrated on Amavasya, the 15th day of the dark fortnight of the Hindu month of ipasi, i.e. October or November every year. But the main Diwali festival is a five day long ritual commences with Dhanwantari Triodasi . Second day of Diwali is referred as Naraka Chaturdasi. Third day is Amavasya or the main Diwali. Worship of Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, is performed as according to the Hindu mythology Lakshmi was incarnated on this day, the new moon day of the Kartik month. Fourth day is known as Bali Padyami. It is believed that Bali would come out on this day from Pathala Loka to rule Bhuloka as such a boon was given by Lord Vishnu. The fifth or last day of Diwali is known as Yama Dvitiya.
Let us now see the different ways in which this sparkling festival is celebrated in different parts of the country.
Andhra Pradesh: In North India, Diwali is usually celebrated during the evenings with fireworks and diyas. However, in Andhra Pradesh, the festivities start out at the crack of dawn and carry on well into the night. The state sure knows how to celebrate! Most people make the trip to the local temple along with their families to seek the blessings of their respective Gods. The night sky is soon lit up with a scintillating array of fireworks and crackers notch up the noise level by a few decibels. People decorate their homes much like the Hyderabadi royalty would have done all those centuries ago. There are no limits set when it comes to Diwali. Homes are lit up with hundreds of diyas and colorful Diwali Rangolis (link) adorn the doorway. For the Children it’s a lot like Christmas in western countries for they get new clothes to wear, delicious food to gorge on and for once nobody ticks them off for making too much noise. In Hyderabad, there is a unique tradition of bathing a buffalo on Diwali day. Another custom involves decorating homes with paper figures. Festivities cut across boundaries to move on from the small villages to the big towns, for almost a month before Deepawali. Sales of expensive silk saris, jewelry and ornaments, household goods go up. From the poor to the rich, everyone indulges in shopping for the biggest shopping spree of the year. Sweets, which are an integral part of any festival in Andhra Pradesh, are prepared in homes as well as bought from shops for exchange. This festival is full of messages depicting one or more aspects of human life, relationships or ancient traditions.
Assam: Diwali Celebrations in Assam usually involve, but are not limited to the lighting of the traditional diyas, followed by gorging on the delicious Diwali Mithais and of course performing the ritual Aarti. The whole family then celebrates with fireworks providing the entertainment and symbolizing the victory of good over evil, reminding people why this festival of lights (link) is celebrated. In Assam a lot of emphasis is laid on lights and particularly the symbolic message behind it. Thus all the houses are lit up with countless flickering lamps and electrical lights. Worshipping Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity and watching the fireworks is an essential part of the usual Diwali festivities. . Beautiful lamps are hung outside homes that are symbolic of the spiritual light dispelling evil and the darkness of ignorance. Doorways are decorated with torans or flower garlands with mango leaves and marigolds. Diwali Rangolis (link) are drawn with colored powders to welcome guests. Business establishments and families perform, chopda pujan or veneration of their business books. Everyone feasts and shops and starts new projects or ventures.
Bihar: The customs are that on Dhanteras most people buy new kitchen utensils and keep them at the place of worship. According to one theory, buying of utensils on Dhanteras is associated with the myth of Dhanvantari emerging from the ocean with a pot in his hand. People bathe in the holy river Ganges early in the morning and then observe a fast which is only broken at sunset with sweetmeats, puris and other succulent delicacies. The day before Diwali is known as Choti Diwali or Narak Chaturdasi. Choti means 'small', and thus Choti Diwali is celebrates just like Diwali only on a smaller scale with lesser lights and lesser fireworks, with everybody trying very hard to retrain their bouts of joyousness for the next day. On the morning of Choti Diwali, the women of the house ensure that the house has been cleaned absolutely thoroughly in anticipation of Diwali; they then make beautiful colorful motifs called Rangolis (link) at the entrance. In Hindu homes, one will find Poojas (prayers) being carried out for Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, or Lord Rama. People sing devotional songs in the honor of the deities and perform a ceremonial Aarti on Diwali day. Kheel, Batashe and Khilone and various sweetmeats are offered to the Gods. After the Pooja has been performed, people start decorating their houses with Diyas. They are placed in all the rooms of the house, and even in the courtyard and almost up to the street. It is believed that it helps illuminate the pathway for the Goddess Lakshmi, when she tries to visit people's homes. Thereafter people of Bihar indulge in the usual festivities of bursting crackers and exchanging sweets with their friends and relatives. The adivasis of Bihar worship kali on this day. Eating unripe coconut and taking a beetle is considered auspicious. In chota Nagpur, the men circumbulate their village with basket full of paddy and grass. A week after the festival of lights (link) is the festival Chhath. For one night and day, the people of Bihar literally live on the banks of the river Ganga when a ritual offering is made to the Sun God.
Jammu and Kashmir: Much like in the rest of the country, the Kashmiris clean their houses in anticipation of Diwali and then decorate them. Even a week before the festival, one can spot an assortment of lamps and diyas lighting up the shops and homes and people moving around with an air of joyousness. Many people get their homes whitewashed as it is considered auspicious to do so just before Diwali. It is also an occasion to buy new things- and people shop till they drop to take advantage of all the festive promotions. Diwali day starts with people waking up early in the morning and having the ritual bath. They then dress up in new clothes and families make their way to the temple. After performing the rituals, they buy a lot of sweets and dry fruits to distribute amongst friends, and relatives and the underprivileged as well. They also purchase earthen lamps, candles and electric accessories for illuminating their homes and business establishments. For Children, it is a time to make merry like no other times except maybe for Eid. They are already in buoyant spirits because of all the new clothes and sweets, and their enjoyments is only heightened when its time to burst some crackers or just generally enjoy the firecrackers. Many of them also receive cash or other gifts from their parents and other relatives. The Kashmiri Pundits have been celebrating this festival for ages now. It is one of their oldest rituals, and a mention of its celebration can be found in the Nilmat Puran. It was then called Sukhsuptika which literally means to sleep with happiness. The Diwali celebrations now start from Ekadeshi and last till Amavasya. On Amvasya, the older members of the family observe a ritual fast and perform the Lakshmi Pooja .Earthen lamps are placed in temples, on the road crossings, cremation grounds, banks of rivers, streams and lakes hill houses, at the foot of trees, cow sheds, court yards and shops. People wear new clothes and listen to music.
Punjab: Diwali is also the anniversary of Guru Hargobindji being released from the prison at Gwalior Fort in 1619 AD. On this day the entire Golden Temple is illuminated with traditional lamps of different colors. The reflection of the temple in the shimmering water of the holy pool is truly mesmerizing, something that you want to hold onto forever in your memory. Fire works display by the traditional professionals recreates the glory of the past. In villages cattle are adorned and worshiped by farmers as they are the main source of income for the peasants. Since Diwali marks the official start of winter, it is a happy time for the peasants as they get to sow their winter crops and pray to Goddess Lakshmi to give them a good harvest. The day after Diwali is celebrated as Tikka Day. On this day, sisters make an auspicious mark called Tika on their brother’s forehead and pray to the lord to protect him from all harm. In the Golden Temple of Amritsar, Diwali is celebrated with great éclat. Earthen lamps are lit all round the holy tank and their undulating reflections in the water look extremely fascinating. Sikhs started celebrating Diwali at Amritsar from the time of their Sixth Master, Guru Hargobind. When he rescued fifty-two rajas from imperial detention in the fort of Gwalior and reached Amritsar, the residents there welcomed him by illuminating the whole-city.
Orissa :The one unique ritual that makes Diwali in Orissa different from what it is in other parts of the country is the practice of calling upon the spirits of one's ancestors. Tall bamboo poles are erected in front of the houses. An earthen pot with small windows, called handi, is tied to this pole with the help of a rope. An earthen lamp is placed inside this and the pot is placed on the top of the pole by pulling the rope. Jute stems are burnt to light up the dark path that the spirits of the ancestors take back to heaven. In the evening, the members of the household gather together just after dusk. A Rangoli of a sailboat is made on the ground. The boat has seven chambers. Over the drawing of each different chamber several items are kept - cotton, mustard, salt, asparagus root, turmeric and a wild creeper. Over the central chamber are the offerings meant for prasad. Perched over the prasad is a jute stem with a cloth wick tied around the edge. It is lit at the beginning of the Puja. All members of the family hold a bundle of jute stems in their hands. Beside the Rangoli, a mortar and pestle and a plough are also kept and worshiped. In the olden days, animal sacrifice was performed in front of the goddess. Today, a gourd is cut to symbolically represent the animal sacrifice. After the Puja and offerings, the family celebrates Diwali festival by bursting crackers. When crackers were still a monopoly of the urban areas, folks in the rural areas lit jute sticks called kaunwaria which would burn for hours. Nowadays, crackers being available in every nook and corner, kaunwarias are lit only symbolically. In Orissa too, Diwali remains the festival of lights and sweets. Earthen lamps are lit everywhere and sweets are offered to friends and relatives.
Rajasthan: Diwali festival gives people a chance to decorate their homes, buy new clothes, visit relatives and friends and take time off from their daily routine to gather together and enjoy the festivities. Rajasthan is also renowned all over the world for its gastronomical delights, and this is apparent during the Diwali season. Women of the neighborhood gather and prepare sweets like Mawa Kachori, Til Ke Laddo, Gonth ke Laddu, Piste ke Launj, Moti Pak, Pheeni, Sohan Papdi, Besan Barfi, Jalebi, Shakarpara- to name just a few. If not for anything else, one ought to visit Rajasthan during Diwali just to taste all that wonderful food. The rituals performed are almost the same as in the rest of the country. The Lakshmi Pooja is performed in the evening before the festivities begin. People invoke the Goddess's blessings for a prosperous year ahead. Thereafter a diya is left burning on the altar for the rest of the night to guide the Goddess when she visits. Then of course, it's time to light up the sky with the brightest firecrackers and indulge in a lot of laughter with friends and family. It is at times like these that the natives forget their problems and their tough life for a couple of hours. The celebrations in the 'Pink City' Jaipur, capital of Rajasthan, are truly unique as the whole city is decorated like a very expensive movie set. The city sparkles almost like a dream and nothing is more reminiscent of the great Mughal era than Diwali in Jaipur. The city seems to come alive during the festival and truly gives a new meaning to celebration.
Himachal Pradesh is one of the most beautiful states in India. Simla is renowned all over the world for its quaint charm, friendly people and excellent weather. In Himachal Pradesh, Diwali is celebrated with great vigor and gusto. The mud walls of the houses are cleaned and painted over with white clay and cow-dung. In the courtyards a red or black square is painted with colored clay. This is decorated with pictures of animals and birds. The walls are decorated with flower garlands. People believe that Lakshmi who is the goddess of wealth visit all the houses this day and settles down in the house which is clean and pretty. People from the hills have a reputation of being superstitious and this can be observed during Diwali as well as they carry out all the rituals religiously. Different sectors have their own unique way of celebrating Diwali. Many people recall the tale of the brave Lord Rama who defeated the evil demon king Ravana and saved the world from a lot of grief because of that valiant act. Mothers recount this tale to their children as Diwali draws near. Diwali is celebrated in the memory of Lord Rama who came back to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. Diwali Rituals in Himachal Pradesh As the sun sets, clay lamps are lit and placed on a plank outside the house in memory of the dearly departed ancestors. It is to reaffirm the bond of these people who share their joys in life as well as in death. It is considered auspicious to visit the cremation site of the family members who are no more. Thereafter, Mithai is distributed to one and all as the children seek the blessings of their elderly in true Indian style by touching their feet. There is a unique ritual in Himachal Pradesh to sacrifice a goat on Diwali day. Another unique custom is that the paint little vessels (Auloo) with clay and decorate it with drawings in red paint. They pray to these and exchange these with their best friends. It is believed that exchanging these pots not only strengthens their relationship but also ensures a prosperous year ahead. Many women preserve these auloos for years and years as they are considered most auspicious. On the day of Diwali, soaked rice is powdered and designs are made out of it. At nighttime, the young girls worship this design with grass and camphor. At some places, a figure of Lakshmi made with sandalwood is placed in a copper plate and a mandav of sugarcane is made over it. Goddess Lakshmi is specially worshiped on this day. Himachal Pradesh is decidedly distinct in the way it celebrates this festival of lights. It is believed that the people from the hills have merged their pagan beliefs to the regular celebrations and the result is a different experience of the festival than anywhere else in the country.
Maharastra: In a traditional Maharashtrian household, Diwali celebrations commence with 'Vasu-baras' that comes on tithi 'Ashwin krushna dwadashi'. Vasu-Baras is a celebration in honor of the Holy cow which is revered by Hindus all over the country and is considered a mother figure of sorts. Married women worship and perform a puja of a cow who is expecting a calf. This symbolizes the gratitude of the women towards the cow for providing for their children. Narak Chaturdashi While Dhanteras is celebrated in Maharshtra much like it is elsewhere in the country, the celebrations for Choti Diwali do differ considerably. Chhoti Diwali is popularly known as Narak-Chaturdashi in Maharashtra: On this day people celebrate Lord Krishna’s victory over the evil demon king, Narakasur. They wake up early in the morning and massage their bodies with scented oil. And as a custom they use 'utane' or 'utanah' for bath instead of soap. This special bath is referred to as 'abhyang-snan'. It may be noted that 'Utane' is not the same as uptan. Utane is made of several things having ayurvedic properties like 'chandan' (sandalwood), 'kapoor' (camphor), manjistha, rose, orange skin and haldi (turmeric). Lakshmi Puja Lakshmi-pujan is celebrated on the Diwali evening. It is believed that the Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity visits every house that evening. So prayers are held in order to invoke her blessings for a prosperous New Year. A variety of mouth-watering delicacies such as chivda, chakali, shankar-pale, anarse, kadaboli, karanji, shev, chirote etc are prepared to mark the festival. Throughout Diwali, Marathi people hang 'Akash-kandil' / 'Akash-dive' and light up 'panti's outside their houses. Tradition of marking the entrance to a house with colorful 'Rangoli's is also followed in Maharashtra as in rest or India. Diwali Cha Padva Many people also celebrate the third day of Diwali as ‘Diwalicha Padva’. This is a celebration of togetherness as a husband and wife and the love shared by them. To mark the occasion the wife performs an 'aukshan' (aarti) of her husband and the husband in turn presents a special gift to his wife. Tulsi-Vivah In Maharashtra, end of Diwali celebrations marks the beginning of Tulsi-Vivah. Under this people organize marriage of sacred tulsi (a basil plant) in their house. In Maharashtra the tradition is that people start organizing the marriage ceremonies of their sons/daughters only once Tulsi-vivah starts. Celebration of Diwali in Maharashtra ends with Dev-Diwali .
Uttar Pradesh: The state wears a vibrant color throughout the Diwali festival, and almost seems to come alive with enthusiasm. The Kartik purnima festival celebrated in Varanasi is a true visual delight. Varanasi has long been hailed as the land of festivals and the fact that it is thronged with Hindu sages gives the city a surreal atmosphere. Religious ceremonies take on a lofty importance in this state that reveres its Gods. The full moon night after Diwali falling in November - December is the sacred day for all the people. The ghats of Varanasi come alive with thousands of brightly lit earthen lamps. The lamps then are gently left on the River. Visitors throng in large numbers to watch this spectacular event.
Gujarat: The real zest for the Diwali festival can be witnessed in the Diwali markets in Gujarat, which come to life almost a month before the festival is to commence. Shoppers make a beeline for the stores selling jewelry, clothes, sweets and Diwali gifts. Shopping becomes almost like a family affair with the whole family dividing up the tasks amongst themselves. It is a pure joy to shop in these colorful Diwali markets. Diwali celebrations in Gujarat commence the night before Diwali. The Gujaratis create designs, usually depicting nature or the Gods, from natural color powders. These are called Diwali Rangolis (link) and are generally found at the entrance of the house or in the courtyard. These motifs are designed in order to welcome Goddess Lakshmi to their homes and are a source of pride for the creators who often compete amongst themselves to see who has the best Rangolis in their house. Small footprints made with rice flour and vermilion powder are also drawn all over the house. The Diwali day attire usually consists of the Jhabba (kurta) and dhotis for the men, while the women dress in Saris. However in the urban cities of Gujarat, most people do not wear the traditional attire instead choosing to opt for western clothes or the fancier Indian variety. It is considered auspicious to visit the temple on this day. The day is spent preparing food and sweets. Shops are open, but business comes to a halt on Dhanteras, two days before Diwali, and doesn't resume until Labh Pancham, the fifth day of the New Year. For traders and businessmen, this is the time for a vacation. Diwali evening is celebrated by lighting up streets and markets, and bursting crackers.
West Bengal: Like everywhere else in the country, Diwali is a time for great feasting and rejoicing and it is no different here in West Bengal. Bengalis have a reputation for decorating their houses and no one can argue with it when Diwali nears. They light up their houses with the most ornate of diyas using hundreds of them at a time. Bengalis are also immensely fond of Diwali Rangolis. Two or even four plantain leaves decorate the entry to the house or property, with a row of diyas at the doorstep. The entire family gathers around for Lakshmi Puja in the evening. The Diwali festival goes on for three days but on Amavasya, the final day for celebrations and the day to worship Goddess Kali, the lights and gaiety are considerably reduced. The first two festival days are important, with feasting, drinking, gambling, family gatherings, lights and fire crackers occupying time from dusk to dawn. In West Bengal, the pious festive air and not the material goods, mainly marks the occasion. No new clothes, no new utensils, no new gold. In fact nothing new at all on Diwali day, as all the shops are shut tight except those selling sweets and firecrackers. Gifts are limited to sweets and dry fruits.
Tamil Nadu: Diwali is celebrated in the month of Aipasi (thula month) 'Narak Chaturdashi' thithi, preceding amavasai. The Diwali preparations begin in full force the day before when the oven (chula) is thoroughly cleaned, smeared with lime and decorated with four or five dots of red kumkum paste. It is then filled with water for the next day’s oil bath as per the custom followed in much of the country. The house is washed and colorful Diwali Rangolis are made at the entrance to welcome the Goddess Lakshmi. In the Puja room, betel leaves, betel nuts, plaintain fruits, flowers, sandal paste, kumkum, gingelly oil, turmeric powder, and scented powder are kept ready for the Puja. Crackers and new dresses are placed in a plate after smearing a little kumkum or sandal paste. The Diwali day begins with everyone in the family taking an oil bath before sunrise, a custom arising from a belief that having an oil bath in the morning on the day of Diwali is equivalent to taking bath in the Ganges. Before the bath, elders in the house apply gingelly oil on the heads of the younger members. For those hailing from Tanjore, the custom is to first take a small quantity of deepavali lehiyam (medicinal, ayurvedic paste) after the oil bath and then breakfast. Often sweets are eaten after wearing new clothes. In almost all houses, items like ukkarai, velli appam, idly, chutney, sambhar, omapudi, boondhi are prepared. For lunch, jangri, pathir peni, or one variety of the poli are made. Crackers are usually burst only after the bath. Meanwhile, kuthu vilakus (oil lamp) are lit in the Pooja room. Mats or wooden planks are placed facing east. After naivedhya (offering to the Gods) of the items, a plaintain fruit is given to each member of the family followed by betel leaves and betel nuts. Those who have to perform 'pithru tharpanam' will have a second bath perform the tharpanam and don't eat rice at night. Though, Tamil Nadu celebrates Diwali in a decidedly distinct manner, many familiarities are observed, like the sweets, crackers, new clothes and the joyous spirit of this wonderful Festival of lights.
Madhya Pradesh: During the Diwali Festival, its almost as if all of Madhya Pradesh has been illuminated with bright, radiant lights. The streets are decorated in a colorful manner and people prepare their favorite dishes along with the usual variety of Mithais. On the night of Dhanteras, the shops remain open throughout the night. In particular demand are the Balushais, khasta or crumbly doughnuts. On Diwali day, houses all over Madhya Pradesh glow with the twinkle of innumerable diyas, candles and electric lights. The night is illuminated with the flaming lights of fireworks, creating kaleidoscopic designs against the black canvas of the sky. For the Hindu business communities, Diwali Festival marks the beginning of the New Year. During Diwali, many folk dances are performed in this region. The Baiga and Gond tribes perform their traditional dances to celebrate the Diwali Festival.
Kerala:Due to the fact that it has a dominant Catholic population, Kerala is the only state in India where Diwali is not a major festival. Traditionally, Diwali celebrations in Kerala are pretty much a low-key affair as there aren’t too many Business or merchant families living here. In fact the natives of Kerala rarely celebrate Diwali.
However, there are places in Kerala which are dominated by prominent Tamil, Gujarati or North Indian communities. In such areas, Diwali is celebrated with much pomp and pageantry, not to mention nostalgia. People of these communities organize grand feasts and put up a colorful display for the benefit of their Kerala neighbors. Many visit temples and then get together with friends and relatives to enjoy the fireworks on Diwali day. However, it is not to say that people of Kerala are not interested in Diwali at all. As India grows economically strong, people of all races are learning to integrate each other’s customs, and it is common to see Diwali being celebrated with immense joyousness in many town and cities of Kerala.
Karnataka: The lighting of innumerable diyas (oil lamps) in every courtyard and the bursting of crackers mark the celebration of Diwali. Sweetmeats, new clothes and spirit are there as in other festivals. The time for rejoicing is mainly early morning and late night. These hours of darkness bordering the waking hours are preferred as lights and crackers are the highlights of the festivities and these need darkness to have their illuminating effect. Hence people rise early and sleep late.