Diwali in West Bengal - Celebrating Diwali the Bengali Way - Diwali 2013 India: Diwali Festival, Diwali Celebrations India, Deepavali History

Along with the rest of India, West Bengal, the gateway to Eastern India celebrates Diwali - the festival of light with great funfare. And it has a unique flavor of its own in the State. Diwali in West Bengal comes off just after Durga Puja, the most important festival of the state. The fDiwali Diyasirst day of the Diwali festival in Bengal begins with the lighting of lamps in every households and commercial establishments. In most of the Bengali households, two or even four plantain trees would be erected in the entrance and diyas are put on these using bamboo poles.

People both young and the old hold a grand display of fire and the night is filled with the hiss of rockets and the boom of crackers. In West Bengal the Dhanteras festival is confined to only a section of business community. The festivities on Diwali night have rich cultural content in this State. Gambling is socially permitted. Religious discourses, recitals from sacred books embellished with songs and expositions are held in temples. Diwali in this State formally ushers in the season of winter.

The most important part of Diwali celebration in West Bengal is the Kali Puja that is held on the second day of the 3-day long Diwali festival. It is believed that on this day, Kali, the goddess of power killed the wicked demon Raktavija. The Kali Puja is marked by lighting lamps and offering puja to this deity considered the fearful incarnation of Goddess Durga. Kali is believed to be the destroyer of all evils and people in Bengal feel that worshipping her during Diwali brings in a revival of justice in this world.
Unlike in other parts of India, Lakshmi Puja may or may not come as per the Hindu calendar during Diwali festival in West Bengal.

Feasting, drinking, gambling, family gatherings, lights and fire crackers mark the festival in West Bengal. Diwali gifts in Bengal are generally restricted to sweets and dry fruits; they do not buy other gifts items unlike in most of the States in India. And shops apart from those selling sweets and fire crackers remain closed during the festival days.

Bhai Phota also known as Bhai Dooj in the rest of India marks the end of Diwali in West Bengal. It is a festival wherein sisters apply a tilak known as 'phota' in Bengali, for their long life. The ritual also involve sisters blowing the conch shell and chanting mantras with some paddy grass known as "Dub" or "Dubya" on their brothers' heads for their well being. The festival concludes with a grand meal and the exchange of gifts.

It is to be mentioned here that Bhai Phota may not fall on the last day of Diwali in certain years, as per the timings of the Hindu calendar. Though Diwali celebration is carried out in West Bengal in its own unique way, yet it retains the basic flavor of joie de vivre like in the rest of India.

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