Despite the cultural differences that exist in different parts of India, Diwali remains a eagerly-anticipated and enthusiastically celebrated festival. Not only in India but even lands like Nepal and Malaysia have their ways of celebrating Diwali.
1. North India
People in the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh celebrate Diwali as a way to mark the occasion of Lord Rama’s return to Ayodhya, along with his brother Laxman and wife Sita, after living for 14 years in exile.
2. East India
In Odisha, Diwali is the day when people call upon the spirits of their ancestors. They set fire to jute stems and hope that the smoke rising upwards will help their ancestors find their way to heaven. In West Bengal, Diwali is Goddess Kali’s day.
3. West India
In Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan, Diwali is considered highly auspicious as it heralds the arrival of Goddess Laxmi. To usher her into their lives, people buy new utensils or silver and gold ornaments.
4. South India
In the southern parts of India, Diwali is celebrated with much gaiety because it was on this day that Lord Krishna was victorious over the demon Narakasura. It is a celebration of the victory of good over evil.
Diwali is celebrated as ‘Hari Deepavali’ in Malaysia. It occurs during the month of ‘Aswayuja’ and is held as a national holiday in the region.
In Nepal Diwali is celebrated as ‘Tihar or ‘Swanti’. This five-day long festival is held in honor of Lord Yama, the Hindu god of death. It is also a time to honor animals like crows, dogs and cows who coexist with humans.
Diwali marks the anniversary of nirvana (final release or liberation) of Mahavira’s soul, the twenty fourth and last Jain Tirthankar of the present cosmic age.