10 places to visit for off-beat Diwali celebrations
M3 India Newsdesk Oct 25, 2019
Want to make the most of the Diwali holidays, how about joining the festivities in some other part of the country? While lighting ‘diyas’ (oil lamps) and firing crackers are common to Diwali celebrations, there is a lot more that happens in different places in India to rejoice during the auspicious days.
Diwali is one of the many Indian festivals, which is celebrated across the country in different ways. We give you 10 off-beat and interesting places to be this year to celebrate Diwali. Enjoy a whole new experience this festive season by visiting any of the places we have suggested below.
See Goa in a new light on Naraka Chaturdashi
Diwali in Goa is best witnessed on Naraka Chaturdashi, the day before Diwali. As a mythology story goes, the demon Naraka had brought upon unhappiness everywhere and Lord Krishna had killed him on this day.
To celebrate the destruction of the evil, the locals design effigies representing the demon and later burn them down. There are competitions held for designing the scariest-looking effigy, and the same are then showcased alongside the roads for people to see. It is fun to take to the roads to check out the effigies throughout Goa, especially the villages with Gomantak population.
Visit Kali Puja Pandals in Kolkata
‘Kali Puja’ is held on the night of Diwali, in most temples and Puja Pandals (temporary decorative arenas for idols) across West Bengal, Assam and Orissa. The idol of the Goddess is put on display in her most fearsome avatar, reminding people to let go off egos and delusions and embrace humility.
The Puja is also a chance for people to meet at different Pandals, mingle, pray and eat together. Kalighat, Belur Math and Dakshineshwar are some of the most visited temples in West Bengali on the night of Diwali.
Enjoy a culture-soaked Diwali in Madurai
Come Diwali and Madurai turns every area around its landmark temples, such as the ‘Meenakshi’ temple and the ‘Murugan’ temple, into a cultural fair. The visitors are welcomed by the wonderful sight of the decorated temples and the mesmerising sounds of the rituals being conducted inside. Women engage in making large and intricate ‘rangoli’ designs, and enthralling dance and music performances keep the atmosphere lively.
Your visit to Madurai would be incomplete without trying out either of the Mutton Kari dosa at ‘Simmakkal Konar Mess’, bone marrow omelette at ‘Amma’s Mess’ and Idlis and sweet Pongal at the ‘Murugan Idli Shop’.
Celebrate an eco-friendly Diwali in South Gujarat
Want to be away from noise and air pollution this Diwali? Partake in the celebrations with the tribals in Gujarat. The arrangements are made by ‘Rural Pleasure’ – a company promoting rural tourism. You can experience the culture of the tribe residing there, enjoy watching their ways of cooking and art forms, go trekking and engage in other activities planned by the organizer.
Spending your days in peace and nights under the stars can be a memorable experience for you and your family. A similar company called ‘Grassroutes’ offers Diwali packages for a rural experience in different villages of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh as well.
Immerse in spirituality during Ganga Aarti on Deepavali
We often see captivating photos of the ‘Ghats of Banaras’ lit with thousands of diyas and pundits (priests) performing grand pujas, almost in synchronicity. Diwali is often the best time to visit this quaint but ever-buzzing city, considering you can witness all that and more right in front of you. Not to forget, Banarasi sweets and ‘Chaats’ can ensure you don’t miss any of the good food you would have had at home.
After the Ganga Aarti, the fireworks over the River is something you don’t want to miss. You can book yourself in a hotel around one of the ‘Ghats’ or the River to soak in the experience from a distance.
Make memories at the Udaipur Light Festival
Be a part of the Udaipur Light Festival – a gala with live performances, exotic food and a lot more to make your Diwali grand. You and your friends can watch Ritviz and Ash King perform live at the Shouryagarh Resort and Spa.
On the days leading to Diwali, the entire city is illuminated with colourful lamps and diyas, making it more welcoming than ever. Witnessing spectacular fireworks over Lake Pichola are a great way to enjoy Diwali evenings in Udaipur.
Use Diwali celebrations as a photography opportunity at Ayodhya
Being in Ayodhya during Diwali doesn’t occur to us but now we have a reason! You may have heard of the 2018 Guinness Book of World Record that was given for lighting more than 300,000 diyas on the bank of the Saryu River. This year too, a similar event with more number of diyas and ‘Raam-Leela’ and other performances will be organized to make it a grander Diwali.
There are also landmarks in and around the city, such as the Mausoleum of Bahu Begum, Moti Mahal, and Kanak Bhavan among others, which you must visit. So Diwali in Ayodhya can be a perfect opportunity for photography enthusiasts and avid Intsagrammers.
Witness the Bhandara festival in Jejuri near Pune
Imagine a beautiful stone temple amidst a massive complex being showered with powdered turmeric! This is how the temple of ‘Khandoba’ (an incarnation of Lord Shiva) in Jejuri looks like during the festival of ‘Bhandara’. Thousands of devotees sing hymns and dance, praying to the Lord, throwing turmeric at each other.
The idols from the temple are carried in a procession towards the Karha River nearby, to offer a holy bath. The return journey in the evening or the welcoming of the idols back to the shrine is done by lighting thousands of diyas, which makes it a sight to behold. The festival will be celebrated on the 28th of October this year.
Celebrate Diwali and Bandi Chhor Divas at the Golden Temple, Amritsar
The day of Diwali also happens to be of importance for the Sikhs. It was the day when Guru Hargobind Singhji, their sixth Guru, was released from imprisonment, sentenced by the Mughal emperor Jahangir. The day is since commemorated as ‘Bandi Chhor Divas’ and celebrated by illuminating the strikingly attractive Golden Temple at Amritsar.
Discover ‘Dhanvantari Jayanthi’ celebrations at Kerala
Dhanteras also happens to be the birth anniversary of Lord Dhanvantari, considered the master of traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda) and an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The Shri Dhanwantari Temple at Parappur in Kerala is one of the popular and ancient temples we have in India.
The celebration includes an elaborate ‘puja’ to the Lord, praying for curing diseases and seeking blessings for longevity. Devotees visit him on this day to pray for good health and safeguarding them from untimely death.
We hope you can use this list to plan your Diwali holiday and enjoy it a tad bit differently. Share your experiences with us if you visit any of these places.
Disclaimer- The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of M3 India.
Pictures are sourced from licensed stock photography. All pictures are for illustrative purposes only and all persons depicted are models.
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