Festival Special – Diwali/ Deepavali

Shubham Karoti Kalyaannam-Aarogyam Dhana-Sampadaa |
Shatru-Buddhi-Vinaashaaya Diipa-Jyotir-Namostute ||
Meaning – The Light of the Lamp Which Brings Auspiciousness, Health and Prosperity,
 Which Destroys Inimical Feelings; Salutations to the Light of the Lamp.
                         Deepavali – ( row  of lamps )  rightly known as the festival of lights  invokes images of little lighted clay lamps , fireworks , lots of sweets , new clothes and family get togethers ! The whole of India calebrates this festival . Whereas in the North it is to mark Lord Rama’s return to Ayodhya ,after 14 years of exile.It is believed that whole of Ayodhya was lit with diyas and the tradition is continues till now,  while in the south it is believed to be the celebration  when the demon Narakasura was killed by Lord Krishna & the celebrations continued for 3 days . Darkness means Negativeness , Ignorance . & Light is  a metaphor for all that is good – Truth , Wisdom , Prosperity  & Spirituality ! & that is what we celebrate – Victory of Good over Bad by lighting lamps – the light representing the Supreme Soul !
We GSBs celebrate this with a lot of devotion & piety so as to attain the grace of God for leading a life full of brightness & Truth! As in earlier posts I will explain how each celebrate in their own regions .

In & around Kochi Kerala day before Diwali – the whole house & surroundings are cleaned , Rangolis or “Humbor borovup ‘ is done on the front door steps , Tulsi Katto & in the  front courtyard with rice flour paste .Mango leaves thoran are hung on the front door , puja room , Tulsi plant  and also hang Panjire / star . On Diwali day – the  ritual bath is very important . It is said that after “Vadam” of Narakasura , Krishna’s body was splattered with his blood , Seeing this His Mother anointed His body with oil and gave Him a bath to remove all bad omens ! This tradition is followed even today  as family members get up early in the Brahma Muhurtha to have Ganagasnan – they apply sesame oil to the head & body & have bath .

Pic Courtesy-Priyanka Ramanan

After this they assemble in the puja room wearing new clothes & adornments , the lady of the house makes diyas out of rice flour , haldi & kumkum . and small  balls too – (one each for a member )  . She places them in a plate containing a little water & haldi & kumkum  . She then lights the  the diyas & waves aarti three times to the whole family .Then she waves each ball for each member twice in either directions – clockwise & anti clockwise . .Then she sprinkles the haldi udakk on their feet , waves aarti again & then discards all of  it away from the house . This is said to remove bad omens since for a mother her child is equal to God ..’Krishanali dristi kallele manthachi.”

           Then the visit to the local temple  . In TD temples  thaila snan / oil bath with “Champel” ie. sesame oil  perfumed with champaka flower petals is performed for deities. After that alankar  with lots of flowers is done &  aarathi with Niranjanam Deevo ( lamp made of rice flour , haldi & kumkum  is waved … After this Satta phovu neevedu is distributed  to all .The temple is fully lighted with lamps in the morning & evening.In houses too people light ponthi/ Clay lamps  from previous day evening & on diwali day.People prepare phovu kalleylelo as prasad at home too. Kuvalya ambat  and sweet payasu is a must  for lunch in every home. 
               Newly weds are invited to the feast and gifted new clothes etc, Sweets and felicitations are exchanged among relatives , friends & neighbours adding to everyone’s happiness . At twilight the whole house is decorated with lighted  lamps and children and adults join in the fun bursting crackers !.WhatsApp Image 2020-11-14 at 7.35.30 PM
            The third day after Diwali is celebrated as Ad Diwali ! this is mainly to strengthen the brother -sister relationship .It is the belief that Yama the Lord of Death  meets his sister Yami whom he is very fond of , he brings her a lot of gifts on this day & the sister in return gives him a grand feast including Pappayphala / pappaya Ambat & Phedi kalleyelle ! .This pappaya with kaachil(yam ) & Mande (colcassia )Ambat is never prepared for any other festival  day other than Ad Diwali.  So even though its now celebrated in a low key nowadays , Sisters fondly remember their brothers and wish them long life & prosperity & the brothers bring gifts for them .
         Now coming to the GSB’s in Canara the preparations for Diwali begins a week or much before that with cleaning of house,decluttering and making of snacks ,savouries and sweets which are to be distributed to friends and relatives during their visit to each other homes. The custom of ‘Udda Borche ” is celebrated on previous  day of Diwali  ( Naraka chaturdesi day ) – Symbolically worshipping Ganga / Jal .  Coconut oil with a tsp of haldi,pepper and methi  is heated in the afternoon. From the temple  the auspicious time to fill water in bhana (pot to heat water which is fixed in bath room those days) is got . The house and  the bhana in the bathroom  is decorated with gonde phool (marigold flower) .Those who don’t have bhana at  their home decorate the  heater or the tap  (the water source ) in the bathroom ( new generation idea) – the main idea is  to maintain the tradition so that our kids and future generation know its importance.

pic courtesy-Veena Nayak
                           Before filling the bhana with water , pooja to  the well  in the house courtyard is performed , those whose don’t have a well put a garland to taps and perform pooja to the tap. Kumkum is applied to the wall of the  well, akshath,little coconut oil  is put on the Gado / pulley  & lighted agarbathi is waved as arathi. Young kids at home bang a steel plate with steel spatula,which is called ‘vatte vajjuche ‘ or a jaganta(a type of instrument used in temples and homes during pooja) . Later sugar or sweet is distributed.Then the eldest lady member of the house or those who are newly married draws water from the well five times .Before bringing it inside the house she has to put her hand worn with gold bangles into the water in the pot – ‘bhangra kankan gallale haathu kalsanthu budoche ‘. and then fill the bhana with this water. After this  kids including unmarried girls  and ladies of the house apply oil over the body and head  and take bath with hot water .!
                   Those who eat non-veg prepare fish curries and fries. This is very special to those in and around Mangalore. Others who dont eat fish have any fries with other delicacies ,Men of the family take oil bath next day.ie on the Diwali day.Two diyas are lit symbolically on previous day and early morning near the entrance (humbaru) to mark the beginning of the festival.
                                                   In North Kanara the ritual oil bath is done at dawn around 4 or 4.30 by everyone and not at night as in South Kanara.After bath ..new clothes are worn by everyone a few sparklers are lit by kids too. Paper lanterns /akash deep/gudu deepa is hanged at the entrance of the house and is kept till Tulsi pooja or” Kartik punnav” at some houses. Sweets and savouries are distributed among neighbours,relatives and friends on Diwali. All visit temples and get ashirvad from elders. Udid Polo is had for breakfast and God phovu is the prasad prepared on Diwali. The newly weds are invited to the girl’s maternal home (kular) as it is their first festival after marriage .On Diwali day newly wed girl has to apply oil to her  husband and give him a good hot water bath. This custom is followed at least for their first deepavali. then they are served the navvi parab.a festive spread which includes kuvale ambat,any ghashi,bajo,harshale phovu,thousali etc..  all specially  prepared for them and they are blessed and showered with gifts.Below is a depiction of Akash deep by my FB friend – Padmini Kamath.

In south Canara side  diyas made  with cucumber and magge are kept near tulsi and at the  front door , entrance .
The next day is Lakshmi pooja on Amavasya Day …many people conduct pooja at home in the evening by adorning the goddess with ornaments,gold or silver coin is kept during pooja or currency notes too…and pray for prosperity. Angdi pooja that is Dhanya lakshmi pooja/dhana lakshmi pooja for grocery shops is performed. Friends and relatives are invited for the pooja and prasad and refreshments are served to them.Many believe that the house door should be kept open and the door should not be locked as Goddess Lakshmi visits us on this day.
After this comes Bali padyami day – On this day the cows are worshipped and a fire log is lit to king bali but this is  performed by those who rear cows at their homes , This is to remember the the benevolent king Bali and his wife, Vindhyavali .Cows and calves are given an oil bath and then decorated with flowers , colourful cloth and kumkum etc.  Balleendra Puja  is performed on Balipadya day at temples .
Hope this post helps all in understanding the various rituals involved and help in following them , so that these traditions are not lost in future . This post has been compiled with the active inputs by Jayashri Shenoyakka , Asha Radhakrishna Shenoy , Shobha Kumar  , Sandhya Puranik ,Padmini Kamath  Vijayalakshmi Prabhu  , Veena Nayak , Priya R Shenoy  , Sushma Mallya and I am indebted to them !

        Wishing  You All A Very happy Diwali !

17 replies to “Festival Special – Diwali/ Deepavali

  1. I am Natasha Prabhu, 19 years old, from Mumbai. I am very fascinated by our Konkani traditions and I dont want to lose them. I am very worried about how traditions are slowing fading away due to the globalisation which I am not happy. But blogs like yours revive the tradition and educate the people especially youngesters in mass, including me.. Thank you for the wonderful information.. Keep educating us 🙂


  2. So very happy to read about you ! I consider our venture successful because these blog posts are targeted for the younger generation like you ! Since only you all can preserve our traditions ! Do keep tack of all the festival posts as they come !, Also please look up the earlier posts too 🙂 May your tribe increase ! 😀


  3. Thanks to all KKAJ ladies for the post! It is very difficult to know the exact traditions and riti rivaaj to follow, if you are brought up in Mumbai, married to a South Kanara GSB and your parents are originally GSBs from Kerala!!! 🙂


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