Diwali Festivities in Jaipur

During a visit to India in October 2011, we were most fortunate to arrive in Jaipur, Rajasthan just in time for Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. The origin of this festival can be traced back to the ancient Hindu epic Ramayana, when Rama and Sita return to the kingdom Ayodhya after 14 years of exile.

Worshippers pay homage at a temple inside the old city

Diwali decorations for sale on the street

Diwali decorations on display

The festival of Diwali extends between 4-5 days, depending on which region in India. The fourth day – the main Diwali festival day – marks the beginning of the new year according to the Vikrama calendar.

The huge crowd of holiday makers on Diwali in the old city of Jaipur as seen from the top of the Palace of Winds.

Merchants perform religious ceremonies and open new account books. Diwali marks the end of the harvest season in most of India. Farmers give thanks for their harvest and pray for a good one for the year to come. Traditionally this marked the closing of accounts for businesses dependent on the agrarian cycle and is the last major celebration before winter. Lakshmi symbolizes wealth and prosperity, and her blessings are invoked for a good year ahead.

Waiting for customers

A garland vendor

Diwali is the time for visiting and exchanging gifts. Traditionally sweets and dried fruit are very common gifts to exchange. In Jaipur, sweets such as like Mawa Kachori, Til Ke Laddo, Gonth ke Laddu, Piste ke Launj, Moti Pak, Pheeni, Sohan Papdi, Besan Barfi, Jalebi and Shakarpara can be found in most sweet shops during Diwali.

A sweet merchant proudly displaying his delicacies

A wide range of Diwali sweets for sale

The box of sweets given to us by a local shopkeeper

A street vendor selling Diwali sweets

Diwali is also traditionally a time to redecorate homes and buy new clothes.

A mother and daughter proudly wearing their new clothes at Diwali

The name of the festival comes from the Sanskrit word dipavali, meaning row of lights. Diwali is known as the ‘festival of lights’ because houses, shops and public places are decorated with small earthenware oil lamps called diyas. These lamps, traditionally fueled by mustard oil or ghee (clarified butter), are placed in rows in windows, doors and outside buildings to decorate them.

Woman selling clay diyas

The lamps celebrate the return of Rama after his exile. To welcome his return,  diyas  were lit in rows of 20. They are also believed to help Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth and prosperity – find her way into people’s homes.

Shops and houses all through out Jaipur are brightly decorated for Diwali

Fireworks are a huge part of the Diwali celebrations. The illumination of homes with lights and the skies with fireworks is an expression of paying respect to the deities for the attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace and prosperity.

Our hotel in Jaipur on Diwali

Fireworks illuminated the skies of Jaipur for our entire stay

For more information about the festival of Diwali, see Wikipedia.

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2 Responses to Diwali Festivities in Jaipur

  1. Kenneth Miller says:

    very nice!!

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