Diwali in KeralaUnlike the rest of India, Diwali is not a major festival of Kerala. But, in recent times it is gaining popularity among the Kerala-ites.  Diwali is celebrated in Kerala in the same manner as the northern states of India, but at a much lower scale.

The growing population of the North Indians in Kerala, for whom Diwali is a very important and significant festival, are the reason for the increase in the scale of Diwali celebration in Kerala. However, for the natives of Kerala this festival isn’t as important as the local festivals like Onam.

Kerala is the only state in India that doesn’t celebrate Diwali on a large scale. There are some speculations for why Kerala doesn’t celebrate Diwali like the rest of India. Following are the apparent reason for that

  • Onam is the most prominent and well-known festival of Kerala, celebrated one and a half months before Diwali.
  • The celebrations and festivities for Onam span over a period of over two weeks and it’s celebrated for one of the same reason as Diwali is celebrated in South India.
  • Although Diwali has many legends attached to it, the one most significant for Kerala is the one about King Mahabali and Lord Vishnu. Kerala is believed to be Mahabali’s Kingdom. But Onam is celebrated for the same reason, which makes it unnecessary to celebrate a festival for the same reason twice, that too within a period of two months.
  • Originally, there were no merchants and businessmen in Kerala, and Diwali is a festival mostly celebrated and significant to the business community, which is speculated to be another reason why Diwali isn’t a major festival of Kerala.
  • Another thing different about Diwali in Kerala (and Tamil Nadu) is that Diwali falls a day sooner that the rest of the country. Reason being, that when Lord Ram made his way up from Sri Lanka – where he killed Ravan, and made his way up with his wife Sita and brother Lord Lakshman, to his kingdom Ayodhya, in Uttar Pradesh, north India. In the journey and the path they took, they crossed South India before reaching Ayodhya leading to celebrations and festivities a day sooner in Kerala.
  • In the rest of the Indian states, Diwali is celebrated over a period of three to five days, but in Kerala, Diwali is just a one-day occasion, with low-key celebrations.
  • The Diwali day, observed a day before from the rest of the country, is celebrated on Narkachaturdashi, to honor Lord Krishna’s triumph over the evil King Narkasura.
However, not being important doesn’t mean it’s not celebrated at all. Although firecrackers are not appreciated or favored by the inhabitants-who love their peace and quiet, people do light diyas(clay or earthen lamps), decorate and offer prayers to Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesh, like the rest of India.

The second day of Diwali, celebrated as Naraka Chaturdashi, hold more importance, as it celebrates Lord Krishna’s victory over the demon King Narkasura. On this day, the typical customs include everyone waking up early to perform the rituals. People put oil on their bodies and then have a bath. In Kerala, there is a custom to prepare jaggery with ginger, and offer it to Lord Dhanwantri (considered the Lord of Ayurveda) and then distributed as prashad (holy offering). Dhanatrayodashi is observed a day before Diwali in Kerala.

The North-Indian population of Kerala observes Diwali in the same manner as their home states. New clothes, shopping, firecrackers, sweets, prayers, diyas and lights and whole lot of preparations and celebrations are all a part of the Diwali celebrations, especially in the cities.

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