Diwali Preparations in Himachal PradeshThe preparation for the festival in Himachal starts at least a month in advance. Houses are thoroughly cleaned as a part of a ritual before the main day. People whitewash their houses, and the natives in the interiors of the state, clean their huts and redo the walls with fresh clay to make their modest abodes look as good as new.
Before the festival approaches, the mud walls are cleaned and painted with cow-dung as it cows are considered holy animals in Hindu’s and cow-dung is used in many puja’s as a part of preparations.. The courtyard and the walls are then painted in shapes of red and black squares with colored clay for decoration. These blocks contain painted images related to nature, like birds and animals, giving it an authentic Himalayan touch.
Many people make beautiful garlands and hang them over the walls and at the entrances of their homes as decorations. The purpose of decorating houses is to give the feel of beauty to appeal Lakshmi- the goddess of wealth and prosperity. It is a popular belief that goddess Lakshmi enters the houses which are neat and clean and welcoming. At dusk, oil lamps and clay pots are lighted on a plank and put outside the houses in remembrance and honor of the ancestors. Once the Puja is performed in the evenings, lamps are lit all around the houses, adding to the warmth and exquisiteness of the houses.
Following is the calendar of Diwali 2017 celebrations in Himachal Pradesh
Indian sweets are a huge part of all celebrations and festivals. The women of the house prepare sweet-cakes that are first offered to the deities during the Lakshmi Puja in the evening. They are then distributed amongst the members of the families as prashad – holy offerings. The youngsters of the family seek blessing from the elders.
Goat- sacrifice is a distinct feature of Diwali celebrations in Himachal Pradesh. Especially in the interiors, families sacrifice goats during Diwali as holy offerings and part of the ritual. Women make clay figures and paint it red, then worship them and later exchange it with their friends. On the morning of Diwali, young girls make designs and figures with powdered rice in the courtyards and worship it later in the evening with grass and camphor. In many cases, idols of Lakshmi are made with sandalwood, which are then places on copper plates with sugarcane placed over it for worshiping.
In Himachal Pradesh, like in the rest of the country, Diwali is celebrated over a period of 5 days and the third day is the main day of the festival and Lakshmi is widely worshipped on this day.